Methane emissions from deer only half sheep and


Mar 11, 2001
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20 June, 2003

Methane emissions from deer only half sheep and cattle

Massey University News

Preliminary trials with grazing deer suggest that they emit considerably less methane per unit of intake than either cattle or sheep when fed on ryegrass pastures. Emissions are further reduced when deer graze chicory or plantain.

A trial conducted at Massey University and funded jointly by MAF, AgResearch, DEEResearch, Wrightson, Agricom and the Massey University Research Fund has been measuring methane emissions from deer grazing different pasture species.

Research project leaders Dr Simone Hoskin of Massey University and Dr Marie Krause of AgResearch, with Masters student Natasha Swainson, say the work is the first to quantify methane emissions in deer. Until now methane emissions per unit of intake have been assumed to be similar to those of cattle and sheep. Although results from a single trial have to be treated with caution, the March data suggests that emissions per unit of intake are only 50 percent of those from sheep and cattle consuming ryegrass diets. In addition ryegrass pastures produced twice as much methane per unit of feed intake as those grazed on Wrightson’s Grasslands Puna or PGG’s Tonic plantain during March. Results from trials undertaken in May will be available soon.

Dr Hoskin says the collaborative research is making a significant contribution towards New Zealand’s ‘stock taking’ of methane emissions as part of its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Under this agreement the New Zealand Government has agreed to take responsibility for emissions in excess of 1990 levels from 2008 onwards. The measurements from this trial will help to establish the 1990 baseline emissions and estimate how emissions have been changing since then. “Deer numbers have increased significantly since 1990 and emissions from the deer industry are likely to have increased because of this. By measuring emissions directly from deer we will have a more accurate assessment of the size of this increase.”

She says if other trials confirm these preliminary results, deer are a relatively environmentally friendly converter of pasture to protein. The information about deer emissions is especially important to the deer industry given government’s recent announcement of a proposed $8.4 million greenhouse gas research levy on agriculture across all sectors based on each species’ animal numbers and emissions, says Deer Industry New Zealand head MJ Loza. Along with other pastoral industries, the deer industry argued against the government’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. However, he says, pastoral industries agree on the need to address climate change issues and investigate effective and practical ways to reduce animal emissions and are jointly funding research in this area.

The reasons why deer appear to produce less methane than cattle or sheep are not known yet. It could be because of secondary compounds such as condensed tannins or because these crops are highly digestible. Further research is being planned to provide the answers. The amount of methane emitted by the hinds was measured by collecting samples of breath from the nose and mouth for five consecutive 24 hour periods in a pressurised collection yoke hung around the animals’ neck, and linked by tubes to a halter on the head.

End article


They's better not monitor the methane level around deer camps.


Well-known member
Oct 15, 2002
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Maybe they should give the cows Gas-X or Beano so they dont Fart as much


Aug 15, 2002
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Where do you get those monitors? I'd like to wire up an alarm to a few and collar a few co-workers.

If we use incendiary ammo, will the cows and sheep explode?

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