Feed Strategy - January 2018 - 33
Study looks to reduce
methane gas emissions
protozoa. Ultimately, the aim would be genetic selection
of embryos based on microfloral diversity.
In reality, the most efficient animals often have the lowest
emissions per unit of product, and manipulations focusing only
on reducing methane emissions do not necessarily have the
greatest overall impact. For example, reducing calving interval
by a week or so and increasing the number of lactations per cow
per lifetime can have a greater effect in terms of environmental
impact compared with simply reducing methane emissions.
ing a holistic approach to improving production efficiency.
There is a current research focus on the importance of the
rumen microbial ecosystem and its role beyond simply
providing nutrients to the animal. The use of modern techniques, such as the aforementioned "-omics," will undoubtedly become more important as research continues and
genetic selection for more efficient, lower-emitting animals
may well become commercial practice in years to come. ■
Despite the pervasive belief that ruminant agriculture
is one of the main contributors to climate change, there is
more to be done to give it a fairer trial. That said, significant
steps need to be taken to reduce the current impact involv-
References available on request
Dr. Helen Warren is owner of HW Consulting, chair of the British Society of Animal Science Industry Association, a
registered animal scientist and certified Cow Signals trainer.
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FeedStrategy ❙ 33