Scientists Are Breeding Sheep With These Strange Traits

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images/Fiona Goodall / Stringer)

New Zealand scientists are attempting to fix the major problem of devastating greenhouse gas emissions which are destroying the climate. The experts have decided to approach this issue most efficiently…by heading straight to the source. And, this massively important job focuses on one core idea…breeding sheep so they will fart less and burp less!

Ewe(s) Are Way Too Gassy!

These New Zealand scientists are focused on curbing climate-ruining greenhouse gas emissions by breaking ground on a project that will stop sheep from breaking wind. The goal is to use scientific resources to create animals that will produce fewer natural gasses. These genetically altered sheep let loose around 10% fewer methane gasses than the gassier counterparts notes a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Scientists at the Invermay Agricultural Centre in Mosgiel New Zealand are behind this genetic-altering project. Highlighting the focus on sheep that are simply less gassy than their relatives. To do this, scientists are focused on creating animals that tend to eat less. They will also feature smaller stomachs. Experts are noting that this will have a big impact on greenhouse gas issues. Reports following these issues note that methane created from livestock through gas-related concerns creates around 10 percent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“The lower emitting animal tends to eat smaller meals,” notes Suzanne Rowe a geneticist with AgResearch, a company associated with the program.

Yes, The Scientists Do Have A Procedure To Test The Amount Of Flatulence Animals Emit

Scientists do have procedures when studying the flatulence level of the animals and determine how much methane is admitted by the flatulent flocks. To do this, the experts place the animals in sealed aluminum chambers for about an hour. During this time, the amount of methane gas emitted is carefully recorded.

Then, the experts separated a group of these animals into two breeding lines…one was high in gas-emitting amounts. The other group demonstrated lower levels of gas emissions. From here, the scientists gathered that the traits that made the sheep less gassy can be “heritable” at around 20 percent.

“We were looking … to see whether the trait was genetic and what the effect of breeding for low methane was,” Rowe explains. “And whether there was effect on other health and production traits.”

“What we’ve seen carry along the way is higher wool growth,” she adds. “We also tend to see a leaner animal.” Rowe also notes that this breeding could translate into something very profitable for the agricultural industry as a whole.

“We are hoping to provide — within the next 12 to 24 months — breeding values to the industry for methane,” she explains.