Knowledge for better food systems

Animal genomics to reduce GHG emissions

Defra have just published a study which examines the scope for applying research in animal genomics and breeding to reduce nitrogen and methane emissions from livestock .
Defra have just published a study which examines the scope for applying research in animal genomics and breeding to reduce nitrogen and methane emissions from livestock . The report finds that there is important genetic variation among and within breeds of all main livestock species that affects the GHG production per unit food produced and that reduction of emissions is possible through selective breeding. Past selection for production traits, such as milk yield, fertility, growth and feed efficiency has already reduced significantly GHG production per unit food produced over the last twenty years. The reductions - in the order of 1% reduction per year (or 20% after 20 years of selection), have been most dramatic in layer hens, broiler chickens, dairy cows and pigs. GHG reductions in beef cattle and sheep production have been considerably smaller. This is partly due to poorer rates of genetic improvement in these sectors, but even more important has been the poor dissemination of breed improvement from the better breeders to the commercial industry as a whole. Generally, the forecast trends for the next fifteen years, based on current and improved selection goals, show that future reductions in GHG production will be similar, or for some species better, (per year) than past progress. You can download the report here.
 

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