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Lower (Cow) Emissions

By comparing the methane output of cows to their genetics, a Genome Canada-led project aims to identify which cows produce lower levels of the greenhouse gas to inform breeding efforts, Wired reports.

Cattle emit some 9.5 percent of global greenhouse gasses, Wired notes, adding that farmers have been trying to limit that by changing their diets and even altering the microbiomes of cattle. At the same time, it adds that Genome Canada researchers and their farmer partners have been sequencing cows and bulls while also using a specialized machine that gauges how much methane and carbon dioxide they breathe out. Some 10,000 cows are to be part of the project.

This data can then be used in breeding, Wired says. "We can identify the best young bulls that carry the right markers for their particular traits," Filippo Miglior from the University of Guelph, one of the project leaders, says. "The best genes keep on accumulating." Miglior adds that he also evaluates genes that contribute to overall health.

"I want a cow to live a long, awesome and producing life," JP Brouwer, a farmer in Alberta who is involved in the project, tells Wired. "That's every farmer's goal."