Mitigating the environmental impact of cattle and sheep: animal genetics and farmers' readiness for uptake
Global warming is often thought as being caused by energy production but the second largest contributor is animal production, with methane produced by cows and sheep a key component. One obvious solution is to reduce meat and milk consumption but this is unlikely to be acceptable to everyone. Moreover, grass-fed animals (such as cows and sheep) can provide other benefits than food, such as managing biodiversity. The UK has a good climate for producing grass and many of the upland regions of the UK cannot be used for cultivating anything other than grass. Grazing animals therefore provide the backbone of many rural communities.
A range of different animal breeding technologies (including but not limited to genetic modification) could be used to mitigate the global warming impact of farm livestock, but adoption of these may be limited by willingness of farmers to purchase these replacement breeding animals. The aim of this project is to:
- understand how farmers reach decisions on where to source replacement breeding animals
- understand how the whole system of producing replacement breeding animals impacts on the decisions made by farmers
- evaluate what changes could be made to encourage the uptake of animals bred for reduced global warming impact
This project will identify key factors that influence the uptake of animals bred for reduced global warming impact. By working in collaboration with a key animal breeding technology transfer body (Genesis Faraday Partnership) this project will be working directly with the people who would be in a position to act on the knowledge created in this project and influence how breeding technologies could be used to mitigate the global warming potential of farm animals.
This project will run from January 2010-Decemebr 2011. For more information, please contact Ann Bruce.