Scientists' $10M Goal: Burpless Cows

They'll try to cut methane emissions through selective breeding
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2013 8:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – A team of international scientists is going to spend $10 million to try to breed a herd of all-star cows—ones that don't burp a lot. The idea is to cut down on the cows' methane emissions, which would have a two-fold benefit, explains the Verge: It would help the environment by reducing a potent greenhouse gas, and it would help farmers by making the cows more efficient and thus reducing feed costs.

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The scientists have found that some cows simply belch less than their peers, even when fed the same diet. They're going to start with 25 of these well-mannered dairy cows and expand the herd to 1,400 through selective breeding, reports the University of Aberdeen, which is leading the project. As for the environmental benefits of reducing cow emissions: "It's silly, but it's also a big problem," notes Grist. Some farmers have experimented with special diets, but that gets expensive and ends up reducing beneficial nutrients from the cow along with the methane. (Read more cows stories.)

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