Major methane discoveries in rumen research
New discoveries on the greenhouse gas methane produced in the rumen of ruminant animals have been made through research funded by the New Zealand government to support the GRA. The research is part of the Global Rumen Census, the Hungate 1000 and the Identification of low methane emitting phenotypes research projects. NZ AgResearch has identified and classified methanogens in the rumen of New Zealand ruminant animals, to help pinpoint targets and develop strategies for reducing agricultural methane emissions. Findings to date show a limited diversity of methanogens, and in low-emitting rumens, a smaller physical size and additional strains of bacteria, some of which do not produce hydrogen. Another type of low-emitting rumen has been discovered and is still being examined. The findings represent an important step towards the goal of breeding low methane-emitting sheep which also maintain reproductivity and meat and wool production.