This innovation will be extended in the future, when more literature will become available.
As commonly known, enteric CH4 emissions are a big concern in cattle farming. CH4 is contributing to global warming and strategies should be defined to reduce the production of this fermentation product. Genetic selection can be an interesting mitigation strategy in the reduction of enteric methane emissions. The goal is to link CH4 emission to different phenotypes (observable characteristics) specific for beef cattle. Based on this, a selection index can be developed for a farmer.
Possible phenotypes to select on: CH4 production/day, CH4 revenue /kg DMI, etc.
Subjects that are still in research:
- The relation between microbiome and CH4 emissions
- The relation between CH4 and RFI/feed efficiency
- The relation between CH4 and breeding values
This is a measure that will work on long-term and will have cumulative effects over generations
- Identifying the heredity of the different phenotypes with respect to CH4 emissions and other characteristics (eg. production efficiency)
- There is a need for a big reference population and the collection of metadata is not easy. An interesting parameter to take into account is individual feed intake, however, it is not possible to measure this on a commercial farm.
- Socio- economic resilience: In the long run, genetic selection is a cost effective way to reduce CH4 emissions.
- Animal health and welfare: The effects on animal health and welfare related characteristics are unknown.
- Production efficiency and meat quality: It is possible that a lower CH4 production is linked to a lower feed efficiency.
- Environmental sustainability: Genetic selection has a great potential in the reduction of CH4 emissions. It could possibly reduce the emissions with 1% per year, and even more in combination with other measures.