VikingNews Global 2-2019 FINAL - Page 6



Climate friendly cows
VikingGenetics is leading efforts to
reduce carbon footprint
by genetic selection
Ruminant livestock make a significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and
livestock production can account for up to 15% of greenhouse gases produced worldwide
according to various scientific studies. As methane is a potentially harmful greenhouse
gas there is a global interest in reducing the amount of methane produced.
By Jan Lassen, project manager R&D
M
ethane production in the rumen is related to many biological processes: Feed intake, Body weight, Rumination,
Milk yield, Milk composition etc., and the largest proportion of methane production comes from enteric fermentation
while a smaller proportion comes from anaerobic digestion in
liquid manure. Moreover, up to 90% of methane gas is produced in
the rumen of the animal. By designing a more climate-friendly cow
that eats less, but produces the same output, goes hand in hand
with reducing methane emissions. VikingGenetics is contributing
a reliable solution to tackle climate change challenges.
Genetic selection and climate-friendly cows
Genetic selection can reduce methane emissions. Assuming that
the production of methane in the rumen is related to feed
consumption in cattle, a phenotype that can be used in breeding
for environmental impact as well as feed efficiency has been
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vikingnews | November 2019
developed. The challenge of reducing greenhouse gasses from
cattle production through breeding is to define the best trait for
methane emission. In other words, for a breeding programme to
be successful, it requires large datasets of individual animal data.
The variation coming from the genetic make-up of a cow must
be distinguished from other sources of variation, and methane can
also be considered in relation to digestive and feed efficiency. The
output of methane also appears to be related to dry matter intake,
which is dependent on live weight, milk yield, stage of lactation,
rumination rate, passage rate, digestibility and eating behaviour.
VikingGenetics has taken essential steps to achieve a reliable index for reducing methane emissions, and to this end, we
have just released a Saved Feed Index to breed dairy cows that
produce the same amount of milk from less feed and we are
now using pioneering technology with 3D cameras to develop a
system able to select for climate-friendly cows.

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