Armidale researchers hope genetic selection will be key to breeding low-emission steaks

Is it possible to raise low-emission cattle and sheep?

A group of Australian researchers and industry leaders think so, and they’re investing $19 million to make it happen.

The University of New England, Armidale (UNE) is collaborating with Angus Australia, Meat and Livestock Australia and the NSW Department of Primary Industry to develop genetics to breed cattle that emit less methane.

The project is in line with the beef industry’s goal of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2030.

“We have always wanted to measure traits related to methane emissions on our cattle so that in the future we can select Angus bulls that will produce less methane but still be productive,” said Christian Duff, Managing Director of Angus. Australia for genetic improvement.

Mr Duff said the organization’s involvement in the project was consumer-driven.

“There is no doubt that there is a tendency for people to want to know where their product comes from and its impact on the environment.

Everything in genetics

The UNE researchers are confident that through the project they can achieve a steady and permanent reduction in methane emissions from livestock.

Two UNE professors will study how to improve the genetic make-up of sheep and cattle.

The research program will include 8,000 cattle and study ways to improve their genetic makeup so that they emit less methane.(Provided: Elders)

Over the next five years, they will measure the methane production of 8,000 cattle and 10,000 sheep living on both feedlots and pasture.

The variation between different animals will be analyzed and the data used to predict which of these animals have genetics that may reduce the emissions they produce.

Associate Professor Sam Clark will research the cattle component and said the two projects could result in a 25% reduction in methane emissions from cattle by 2050.

Sheep in a pen
A separate program will study the genetic makeup of sheep.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

“A plausible amount to expect from genetic technologies is about 1% methane reduction per year,” he said.

“It’s kind of like your interest rate to the bank, it just keeps piling up on itself.”

The project is expected to start later this month.

Dino S. Williams