Records on 777 young, performance tested Angus bulls and heifers measured for methane emissions in open circuit respiratory chambers were used to estimate variance components of methane traits in beef cattle. The mean age at methane measurement was 448 d. Traits studied included yearling weight (YWT), dry matter intake (DMI), daily methane production (MP), methane intensity (MI; MP/pre-test weight), methane yield (MY; MP/DMI) and residual MP (RMPR; actual minus predicted MP). Heritability estimates for YWT, DMI, MP, MI, MY, RMPR were 0.42, 0.46, 0.26, 0.29, 0.23 and 0.19, respectively. MP was positively correlated with YWT and DMI. The other methane traits were either not correlated or only weakly correlated with YWT and DMI. These results show that there is the potential reduce methane emissions in beef cattle through selective breeding.

Paul F Arthur, Robert M Herd, Simon S Bird, Kath A Donoghue, Roger S Hegarty

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Genetic Improvement Programs: Selection for harsh environments and management of animal genetic resources, , 038, 2014
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