Beef farmers can breathe easier thanks to University of Alberta
researchers who have developed a formula to reduce methane gas in
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.
news for the environment," said Stephen Moore, a professor of
agricultural, food and nutritional science at the University of
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"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
Using information from previous studies,
the researchers compiled an extensive database of methane production
values measured on cattle and were able to formulate equations to
predict how much methane a cow would produce based on diet.
study was jointly conducted with the universities of Guelph and
Manitoba, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the International Atomic
Energy Agency in Austria. It published recently in the Journal of Animal Science.
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.