- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: genetics, grazing management, rangeland/pasture management
- Education and Training: extension
Enteric methane emissions (CH4) are largely unknown from cattle grazing extensive semi-arid rangelands. Determining baseline levels would be beneficial for ranchers to understand if genetic selection could be used for CH4 mitigation. Our research question is, “Do stocker steers with different genetics exhibit differences in individual animal CH4 emissions?” Steers differing in genetics will be provided by 1) local ranchers from the Crow Valley Livestock Cooperative, Inc. (a cooperative of 40 ranchers) and 2) the Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, NE. Steers will be grazed in low and high productivity shortgrass steppe pastures in Colorado (2022-2023). Using GreenFeed automated head chamber systems, which will measure individual animal CH4 emissions and forage intake for approximately 24 steers (8 MARC, 16 local) in both pastures during the May-October grazing season for two years. Steers will be individually weighed at the beginning and end of the grazing season and at 28-day increments. Fecal samples will be obtained weekly for estimating quality of consumed forage (crude protein and digestible organic matter). We will evaluate the influence of animal genetics on individual animal CH4 emissions, intake, production efficiency, and animal weight gains across the two pasture productivity levels. Stakeholders will be explicitly involved in all aspects of this research to assist with dissemination of findings, via producer-oriented field days and demonstrations. We expect genetic differences to influence individual animal enteric emissions and this outcome can be incorporated into selection efforts to mitigate CH4 emissions.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Better understand how genetic differences impact the productivity and environmental footprint of short-grass grazing systems.
- Growth in the resiliency of the beef cattle supply chain by improving collaboration between research institution, government organization, and producers.
- Producers report changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, and/or awareness as a result of their participation in the educational programming provided by this project.