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Scientists in New Zealand are breeding sheep that fart and burp less -- you already know why


Scientists in New Zealand are trying to curb greenhouse gas emissions by controlling sheep farts. They plan on achieving this by breeding lower-emitting sheep that produce 10 percent less methane as opposed to grass-fed sheep.

They say livestock emissions are a huge contributor to New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions and contribute upwards of 10 percent to Australia's greenhouse emissions. AgResearch is spearheading the project with the help of geneticist Suzanne Rowe. Rowe says they're able to breed lower-emitting sheep by separating them into two groups: high and low gas emitting.

To measure how much the sheep are burping and farting and how much methane they're emitting scientists place them in a sealed aluminum chamber for about 40 minutes to an hour to allow all of the gases to accumulate. According to Rowe, research revealed that the lower-emitting trait is 20 percent heritable.

According to a 2015 report by Meat and Livestock Australia, "Research indicates that up to 40 percent or more of the feed energy lost in methane from livestock can be captured and put to productive purposes."

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