Jump to content

Putting a baa on burping sheep in the battle against climate change


Recommended Posts

Putting a baa on burping sheep in the battle against climate change



By Richard Shears

Last updated at 10:16 AM on 18th January 2010




article-0-07E577E7000005DC-201_233x334.jpg Oops: A global warmer


It could be a major scientific breakthrough in the battle against climate change. Or just a touch of woolly thinking.

For scientists in Australia are homing in on an unlikely weapon to tackle greenhouse gases - the burp-free sheep.

Emissions from agriculture are the country's second largest source of greenhouse gases and environmentalists have begged farmers and scientists to find a way of reducing the problem.

Scientists are working on several means of reducing methane emissions from animals and have been encouraged by experiments involving changing the microbes in the gut, altering their diet and changing the genetics of animals.

The target is to stop the main cause of the methane problem - burping sheep.

In a world-first study, the Australian Sheep Co-operative Research Centre is conducting experiments with 700 sheep from 20 different genetic lines.

Some genetically-mixed groups are being fed the same foods, while other animals are being fed a variety of menus before they are shepherded into pens so their burp outputs can be measured.

Research leader Dr Roger Hegarty said: 'What we do know right from the start is that sheep in general burp large amounts of methane.

'There's been environmental pressure to see if this can be cut down.'








It is commonly thought methane produced by sheep is flatulence, but John Goopy from the New South Wales Department of Industry says that is a misconception.

He said: 'Ninety per cent of the methane that sheep and cattle and goats produce comes from the rumen, and that's burped out. Not much goes behind.'

Scientists are being careful to avoid producing other problems in their attempts to cut down farm animals' carbon footprint.

Dr Hegarty said: 'Methane is the exhaust from livestock and - just as you can't put your hand over the exhaust pipe of a car and expect it to keep running - we're treading carefully.'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...