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    Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland
    The Honourable Tim Mulherin

    Winds of climate change for gassy cows

    Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland
    The Honourable Tim Mulherin

    Monday, April 06, 2009

    Winds of climate change for gassy cows

    The Queensland Government has secured funding for three new, major research projects aimed at cutting the greenhouse gas belched out by livestock.

    Primary Industries and Fisheries in the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), and the University of Queensland (UQ) were successful in obtaining three of the Federal Government’s 18 emission reduction projects.

    Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland Tim

    Mulherin said the projects focus on minimising methane emissions from cattle and sheep.

    Mr Mulherin said: “Many people don’t realise that livestock produce serious quantities of methane - affecting the earth’s temperature and climate system.

    “In fact, methane ‘burped out’ by sheep and cattle contributes up to 14% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

    “We are already known for cutting edge research on this problem – in particular investigating whether bacteria from kangaroos, which are largely methane-free, can be implanted in cattle and sheep to reduce their methane production.

    “These three new projects are in addition to that research.

    Almost $1 million has been allocated to the projects, which aim to be completed in the next three years,” Mr Mulherin said.

    Primary Industries and Fisheries senior principal research scientist and UQ associate professor in animal nutrition Dr Athol Klieve outlined the projects.

    Dr Klieve said: “One project centres on using viruses that attack methane-producing microbes in the guts of cattle and sheep.

    “We are sure these viruses exist, we just have to isolate them.

    “Another project will investigate boosting livestock feed by adding lipids (oils).

    “Improving feed quality with lipids automatically improves the condition of the animal and cuts the amount of methane produced. It also reduces the organisms in the gut that produce methane.

    “The third project will investigate the value of microbes that turn the methane produced in the gut back into hydrogen and carbon dioxide,” Dr Klieve said.

    Mr Mulherin said: “If we began reducing methane emissions now, we could see a change in 10 to 20 years.

    “These projects could help achieve that while also contributing to increased productivity within the beef, lamb, dairy and wool industries,” he said.

    “The scientists and PhD students in Primary Industries and Fisheries Rumen Ecology Unit are excited to be involved with these projects that could potentially achieve significant cuts to Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions for the future.”

    The projects are co-funded through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Climate Change Research Program in conjunction with Meat and Livestock Australia.

    For more information on animal science, visit the Primary Industries and Fisheries website at or call the Business Information Centre on 13 25 23.

    Media: 32396530