Scientists are working to breed sheep that produce less greenhouse gases in order to reduce their impact on the environment.
The Grass to Gas initiative will combine international scientific and industry expertise to measure two major factors affecting the environmental consequences of the livestock – feed efficiency and methane emissions.
Its goal is to develop ways to identify animals with a lower impact, which can then be selected for breeding programmes.
Nicola Lambe, a sheep geneticist at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), said: “The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue requiring a transnational and transdisciplinary approach.
“It will also contribute towards addressing the argument about the effect of eating meat on global warming, with sheep making use of land often unsuitable for other agricultural production, except conifers – at least in the UK.”
The research led by SRUC will use lambs bred from male sheep – known as sires – sourced from the Texel Sheep Society’s Texelplus programme, to investigate the effects of sire and breeding values on these measurements.
Data will also be analysed to quantify the economic and environmental benefits of improvements in feed efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Source: The Guardian newspaper article here.