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Title: Estimates of repeatability and heritability of methane production in sheep using portable accumulation chambers
Contributor(s): Goopy, John P  (author); Robinson, Dorothy L  (author)orcid ; Woodgate, Reg (author); Donaldson, A (author); Oddy, Hutton  (author)orcid ; Vercoe, P E (author); Hegarty, Roger  (author)
Publication Date: 2016
DOI: 10.1071/AN13370
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Abstract: This study was designed to screen a large number of sheep to identify individuals with high and low methane (CH4) production, and to estimate repeatability and heritability of CH₄ emissions in sheep, utilising portable accumulation chambers (PAC) designed for in-field use. Mature ewes (n = 710) selected from a research flock with known sires had their CH₄ production over 1 h measured in PAC [CH₄(g1h)]. Individuals with High (n = 103) or Low (n = 104) CH₄ (g1h), adjusted for liveweight (LW), were selected and re-measured on three occasions 1-4 months later, at another site with more abundant and better quality pasture. Mean of the selected (207) ewes CH₄ (g1h) emissions were ~50% higher than at the first measurement site (0.66 g vs 0.42 g).LW was a significant correlate of CH₄ production (r = 0.47). Correlations between CH₄ (g1h) for the three PAC measurements at Site 2, before adjusting for LW ranged from 0.44 to 0.55. After adjusting for the effect of LW, repeatability was 0.33 at the first and 0.43 at the second site. The correlation between estimates of an animal's emissions at the first and second sites, adjusted for LW, was 0.24. Initial CH₄ production of the selected High group was 32% greater than the Low group (P < 0.0001). On re-measurement there was still a significant difference (9-15%, P < 0.006) between Low and High groups. The initial estimate of heritability of CH₄ (g1h), based on variation between the ewes' sires (0.13), was not maintained across the two sites. This may be due to genotype x environment interactions. We postulate that aspects of rumen physiology, which modulate CH₄ production, could be expressed differently in different nutritional environments. Our results indicate that field use of PAC to screen sheep populations for CH₄ production is both robust and repeatable. However, further investigations are required into the relationship between CH₄ output of individual animals in PAC compared with the more controlled conditions in respiration chambers.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Animal Production Science, 56(1), p. 116-122
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 1836-5787
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 070203 Animal Management
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 300302 Animal management
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
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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