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Title: Reducing methane emissions by including methane production or feed intake in genetic selection programmes for Suffolk sheep
Contributor(s): Cottle, David  (author)orcid ; Conington, Joanne (author)
Publication Date: 2013
DOI: 10.1017/S0021859612001037
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Abstract: The use of selective breeding to reduce methane (CH₄) emissions is an option for reducing carbon emissions from livestock farming systems. The current study models UK lowland terminal sire (meat) sheep production systems to study the impacts of including CH₄ emissions and/or feed intake as breeding objective and selection criteria traits in sheep breeding systems, on the predicted genetic responses of production traits. Nine breeding goal traits and 15 selection index traits were modelled in a Suffolk breeding flock with a deterministic model of trait economic values (EVs). Methane was given an EV equivalent to a carbon price varying from ₤0 to ₤538/t CO₂-e. When currently used selection indices added feed intake as a breeding objective,CH₄ reductions of 0.15 and 0.05 kg CO₂-e/sheep/year were predicted when intake was, or was not, measured, respectively, with a zero carbon price. These reductions were relatively insensitive to carbon price. Overall economic (index) response to selection was insensitive to carbon price and increased with higher feed costs, when neither CH₄ nor feed intake was measured. When CH₄ and/or intake were measured, overall economic responses increased with higher carbon prices, when feed costs were zero. Methane and intake responses were only sensitive to carbon price (whether CH₄ and intake were measured or not) when feed costs were zero. To achieve a desired reduction of 0.1 kg CH₄/head/year (cumulative 30% reduction in 20 years) when feed costs were zero, CH₄ and/or intake needed to be measured. If CH₄ was measured, carbon price needed to be >₤50/t CO₂-e; if intake was measured carbon price needed to be >₤100/t CO₂-e. Including feed intake as a breeding objective trait with non-zero feed costs should assist in reducing CH₄ in breeding programmes. Selective breeding of terminal sheep by index selection has the potential to contribute a reduction of up to 0.27 kg CO₂-e per ewe per annum, depending on the traits measured, feed costs and carbon price. This would help meet the UK Government's greenhouse gas reduction targets for farming systems.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: The Journal of Agricultural Science, 151(6), p. 872-888
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1469-5146
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 070201 Animal Breeding
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 300305 Animal reproduction and breeding
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 830310 Sheep - Meat
830311 Sheep - Wool
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 100412 Sheep for meat
100413 Sheep for wool
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article

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