• New Zealand farmers to breed genetically modified sheep

    Date:3 December 2019 Author: Leila Stein

    New Zealand farmers are now able to raise livestock that emit lower levels of methane, as they can be genetically modified to contribute less to the depletion of the ozone layer.

    Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics have launched a new “methane research breeding value” to select important traits that ram breeders want more of in their flocks. It will take two years for these rams to reach maturity.

    “This is a global first for any species of livestock. Launching the methane breeding value gives New Zealand’s sheep sector a practical tool to help lower our agricultural greenhouse gases,” PGGRC general manager Mark Aspin said. “Up until now, the only option available to farmers wanting to lower their greenhouse gas emissions has been to constantly improve their overall farming efficiency. This takes us a step further – towards actually lowering sheep methane emissions, in keeping with the sector’s commitment to work towards reducing its greenhouse emissions.”

    The breeding toll was developed through a 10-year collaboration between the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC), the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) and AgResearch and it has no negative impact on the sheep.

    “So by breeding sheep that produce less methane per mouthful eaten – as other methane-reducing technologies come on stream – the influence of these sheep on the national flock’s methane production becomes compounding.” Aspin said.

    Image: Pixabay

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