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Reducing Enteric Methane for improving food security and livelihoods

Win-win opportunities

Increasing the productivity of ruminant systems can benefit millions of rural farmers who rely on ruminants for their livelihoods by providing higher incomes, more plentiful, nutritious and cheaper food, and by generating patterns of development that provide employment and benefit to both rural and urban areas while at the same time offering benefits for climate.

Intervention strategies and opportunities to improve ruminant productivity and reduce enteric methane emissions per unit of animal product are available for all ruminant production systems. These win-win opportunities as they are known can be classified into the following broad areas:

Feed and Nutrition

Improving feed quality can be achieved through improved grassland management, improved pasture species, forage mix and greater use of locally available supplements. Matching ruminant production to underlying grazing resources, ration balancing, undertaking adequate feed preparation and preservation will improve nutrient uptake, ruminant productivity and fertility.

Animal Health and Husbandry

Increasing the biological efficiency of the ruminant by improving the reproduction rates and extending the reproductive life of the animal is key to reducing methane emissions, but this can be constrained by disease, and especially, production-limiting endemic disease. Reducing the incidence of endemic, production-limiting diseases that have a number of negative outcomes, including death or cull of previously healthy animals, reduced live-weight gain, reduced milk yield and quality, reduced fertility, abortion and/or increased waste in the system will generally result in healthier animals that are more productive.

Animal Genetics and Breeding

Genetic selection for local conditions and improved breeding management practices (using artificial insemination for example) will improve the production efficiency of the ruminant, and will also address issues associated with reproduction, vulnerability to stress, adaptability to climate change, and disease incidence.