Scientists hope to breed sheep that emit less greenhouse gases

Here's looking at you, Babe.

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.


New knitting help site opens with a couple of oops


sheep at

I made that?

My friend’s new knitting site,, went live yesterday with a couple of minor oops appearing almost immediately.

Nothing terrible happened. Teething problems always creep up whenever somethng digital is released to the public. All the testing and reviewing done during the past 5 months of building the site managed to clear away lots of little problems. Neither my friend nor I are computer experts or coders. All our training on computers has been by the seat of our pants and we’ve built up a small library of knowledge on computers. A very small library. We expected problems and we got them.

We had a goodly amount of traffic the first day and it seemed all the data was being delivered quickly. Visitors were spending time checking everything out. All the sheep were peaceful.

That’s it for now. Back to tending the flock at My Simple Knitting. Yes. Flock. Sheep live in flocks but the act is called sheepherding. Go figure. English language. Sheesh.

Woolly jumpers: rabbits ride on sheep to stay dry in flood

Rabbits catch a ride on the back of sheep during floods in New Zealand Photograph: Richard Horne

A New Zealand farmer has a newfound respect for the ingenuity of rabbits after he photographed them riding on the backs of sheep to escape a flood.

Ferg Horne, from Mosgiel in the South Island, was checking on his neighbour’s sheep on Saturday morning after a near-record breaking flood tore through Otago, prompting evacuations and forcing authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Expecting the sheep to be drowned, Horne was relieved to discover the mob perched on a high spot of the paddock standing in about three inches of water.

And they weren’t the only animals who had acted fast to avoid a watery death. Perched on the sheep’s backs were three wild rabbits, drenched and shivering but alive.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, they were just sitting there keeping out of the water, they must have got to the high spot and then jumped up on to the back of the sheep to stay dry,” said Horne.

“It shows you how resilient they are and why they survive so well.”

“When I moved the sheep the rabbits fell off, but they ran to a hedge and climbed into the branches. Later when I went back to check the rabbits were gone so they must have survived.”

Read the complete article on The Guardian web site.