Rumen bug option

29 June 2001

Rumen bug option

VACCINATING Australian ruminants against their own rumen bugs could boost production by up to 8% and help combat global warming at the same time.

The BBC web-site reports that Australian scientists plan to vaccinate 600,000 sheep and 400,000 cattle against rumen bugs which produce the greenhouse gas, methane. Commercial production of the vaccine could begin as early as 2005.

As well as reducing methane emissions from cattle and sheep, the vaccine should also increase milk and meat production, says researcher Jamie Newbold, based at Aberdeens Rowett Research Institute.

"Dairy cows lose 8% of the energy they consume as methane. If this could be channelled into milk production, it would be a major selling point for the vaccine."

Effectiveness known?

However, before such a vaccine could be used in the UK, research must be carried out to establish whether it is effective against methane producing rumen bugs found in British livestock, says Dr Newbold. &#42

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