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Scientists Put Cows in Glass Boxes to Reduce Methane Emissions


In Finland, a recent study examines the usage of cows in glass boxes to measure the methane emissions. Scientists may be able to link this to genotypes, which will help them speeed up breeding of more climate-friendly cows.

Methane (CH4)is a more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2), and one third of the methane is produced by the world's livestock, making it a key target for mitigating climate change.

RuminOmics, a project which was led by the University of Aberdeen and funded by the European Union, the Natural Resources Institute Finland, in collaboration with ten other European research institutes, investigated the interaction between a ruminant’s genotype, feed, and the microbial make-up of the rumen. The scientists examined the role these factors played in the energy-efficiency of dairy cattle and their methane emissions.

One hundred Ayshire cows visited a metabolic glass chamber, where the cow's methane emissions werem measured, along with their digestion, production characteristics, energy-efficiency and metabolism, and microbial make-up.

Some cows with low emissions were found to be inefficient, because of their poor digestion of fodder. Consequently, the researchers decided to keep the cows with better production within the herd for a longer time; this they determined was a better solution to the problem of methane emissions than just breeding from low emission cows.

However, the study did identify areas of genetic variation linked to the amount of methane produced per kilo of milk produced, which warrant further investigation.

Johanna Vilkki, professor at Luke, Finland's Natural Resources Institute, said: “We will investigate whether these genes affect the variation in the microbial make-up of cows’ rumen or other characteristics of cows such as the size of their rumen, production level or capability to use fodder.”

This article was cited from: http://goo.gl/2iyhQM