Moo! Study to cut emissions from cow burps

Danish researchers have mooted an idea they believe will cut the greenhouse gases from farming cattle – by measuring their burps. One cow’s belches in a year contain so much […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Danish researchers have mooted an idea they believe will cut the greenhouse gases from farming cattle – by measuring their burps.

One cow’s belches in a year contain so much methane they are currently equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a small car. The global warming potential of methane is about 25 times that of CO2 and worldwide it is estimated livestock account for 15% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers at Aarhus University measured the quantities of methane gas in the breath of dairy cows and found it varied between different animals. They say this demonstrated a “heritable variability”.

Just as cows have been selectively bred to boost their milk production, they could be picked for emitting less methane.

Dr Jan Lassen who led the research project said: “This means that we have an opportunity to select for breeding those individuals which will produce offspring that generate less methane.”