Burping Sheep produce Deadly Gas!
Deadly if Greenhouse gases are causing contentious Global Warming.
The cute and cuddly critters down under are accused of producing a staggering 12% of that nation's greenhouse gases.
Australia, a major sheep producer, has taken to studying sheep burps. The study is aimed at finding sheep that produce a less lethal variety of belches. They then hope to breed a strain of sheep that are easier on the environment.
While Global Warming itself may be controversial and ultimately off base, sheep breeding is nearly as old as civilization itself.
Around 12 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gases originate with agriculture, and some 70 per cent of that amount is blamed on ruminant livestock, with most of it coming from burps.
John Goopy, the study leader, measured the sheep's emissions by herding them into a specially designed booth shortly after they eat and then calculating the amount of gas belched.
His team hopes to find whether there is a genetic link between the sheep that produce the least methane, which could then be exploited to breed low-emissions sheep.
Of the 200 sheep so far tested, about half produced much more than average while the other half belched considerably less methane.
"The biggest single determinant of methane production in cattle and sheep is the amount of feed they eat. But even once that is taken into account, I have found significant differences between individual animals," he said.
The scientist said methane has about 17 times the environmental warming capacity of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
"And if we can find a hereditary link and specifically breed for that outcome it will be an ongoing reduction, it won't be a one-off."
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