Combining methane data recorded in multiple countries
Since the 2015 Paris Climate Conference it is even more clear that greenhouse gas emissions of livestock has to reduce in order to fulfil the target set at that conference. One of the greenhouse gases is enteric methane of ruminants. Genetic can be a useful tool to lower the emissions, however, it requires data on many individual animals. For B4F, Yvette de Haas investigated the opportunities to collate data on methane from multiple sources. Her study included data recorded in 5 countries, and she showed that the correlations were all positive. This strengthens the hypothesis that international collaboration is essential to make progress in each country.
Climate change is a growing international concern and it is well established that the release of greenhouse gases (GHG) is a major contributing factor. Within B4F we work also on the reduction of enteric methane (CH4) of dairy cattle, by exploring the possibilities to breed for lower-emitting cows. Measuring CH4 emissions from cows is challenging and expensive, thus individual experiments typically record only a limited number of records for this trait, generally too few to enable accurate estimates of genetic parameters, and genomic predictions.
One solution to this would be to combine information from multiple experiments that have been collected in different countries. An attempt for that was initiated by Yvette de Haas. The work was based on data from NL, DK, AUS, UK and IRL. In total, 12,820 weekly methane emission records from 2,857 cows were available. Although different equipment was used across countries to measure methane emissions, we aimed to define similar methane output phenotypes in each country.
The analysed methane traits, that are available in each country, are
(1) methane production in g/d, and
(2) methane intensity in g/d per kg fat protein corrected milk (FPCM).
Genetic variation has been shown for these traits, and correlations between countries show that it is possible to merge data from different experiments. This opens up possibilities to collaborate and extend the database. The approach is novel and no other attempt has been performed before to make genetic analysis of methane traits across countries. The analysis can be repeated in future studies where more data hopefully will be available.
Want to know more about this newsitem? Contact Yvette de Haas.