Impact of genetics and grazing management on enteric methane emissions and performance in stocker steers

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $29,485.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G136-23-W9212
Grant Recipient: Colorado State University
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Kim Stackhouse-Lawson
Colorado State University

Information Products


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: genetics, grazing management, rangeland/pasture management
  • Education and Training: extension

    Proposal abstract:

    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:

    Research Objectives: 

    • 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.  

    Educational Objectives: 

    • Producers report changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, and/or awareness as a result of their participation in the educational programming provided by this project. 
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.