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GENETIC scientists have been gathering in Aberdeen to discuss how to reduce the amount of methane produced by cattle, sheep and other ruminant animals to tackle climate change.

The £6.5 million EC-funded project entitled Ruminomics involving 11 European organisations over four years includes Aberdeen University and Quality Meat Scotland.

Professor John Wallace of the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen said ruminants also use feed protein inefficiently.

Professor Wallace said: “Ruminomics aims to increase the efficiency – and decrease the environmental footprint – of the farming of ruminant livestock, and to significantly advance current knowledge in this sector.

“The project will exploit state-of-the-art technologies to understand how ruminant gastrointestinal microbial ecosystems – called microbiomes – are controlled by the host animal, and by their diet, and how this impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, efficiency and product quality.

“Our aim with this ambitious project is to develop new models and tools to enable the livestock industry to reduce environmental impact from methane and nitrogen emissions, and to improve the nutritional efficiency of the feeds they are using.”