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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Improving beef cattle’s genetics can cut emissions by up to 13%

New research suggests that improving genetics in the beef herd can result in a “significant” reduction in Irish cattle emissions.

ABP, Teagasc and ICBF spearheaded the collaborative research project involving over 4,000 animals, ABP’s demonstration farm and six years of data.

According to the bodies, the results – which they claim are applicable across different beef production systems – show that emission reductions of up to 13% are possible.

The research, they say, has also led to improved returns for farmers of up to €200/animal.

They believe findings have the potential to play a “significant” role in helping Ireland’s agriculture sector reach Climate Act targets.

Beef cattle’s emissions

The bodies are sharing the output from the research with farmers across the country through the ICBF database. There are over 233,000 calves born and reared on Irish farms bred from beef bulls from the programme.

Improved genetics, they say, allows the animals to grow faster through better feed conversion.

As a result, they are ready for market at a younger age reducing emissions “significantly”.

Minister of State with responsibility for research and innovation Martin Heydon stated:

“Irish grass-based beef systems are among the most sustainable production models in the world.”

“The work of our farmers, coupled with collaboration from industry partners like ABP, Teagasc, and ICBF, will be central to strengthening Ireland’s position as a world leader in beef production.”

“As demonstrated on this farm, adopting cutting-edge research and technologies can deliver for both emissions reductions and farmers’ bottom lines.”

‘Climate-friendly’ cows

Breeding “climate-friendly” cows is the focus of a new study spearheaded by a team across the waters at Wageningen University & Research.

Findings show that around 30% of variation in methane emissions between individual cows comes from the animal’s genetic background.

According to researchers, “these results indicate that it is possible to breed for cows that are low methane emitters”.

Read more on this news article.

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