Public release date: 7-May-2009
Contact: Bev Betkowski
University of Alberta
eef farmers can breathe easier thanks to University of Alberta researchers who have developed a formula to reduce methane gas in cattle.
By developing equations that balance starch, sugar, cellulose, ash, fat and other elements of feed, a Canada-wide team of scientists has given beef producers the tools to lessen the methane gas their cattle produce by as much as 25 per cent.
"That's good news for the environment," said Stephen Moore, a professor of agricultural, food and nutritional science at the University of Alberta in Canada. "Methane is a greenhouse gas, and in Canada, cattle account for 72 per cent of the total emissions. By identifying factors such as diet or genetics that can reduce emissions, we hope to give beef farmers a way to lessen the environmental footprint of their cattle production and methane reductions in the order of 25 per cent are certainly achievable."
The findings build on previous work by Moore and his research team on genetically selecting cattle that inherently produce less methane. While further studies are needed before bringing the research into general use, the work "promises significant improvements in environmental stewardship on the farm," Moore noted.
The study was funded by the Canada Research Chairs program and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.