Beef cow and calf

The study found it was possible to improve the genetics of animals and reduce their environmental footprint

A multiyear study by red meat giant ABP Food Group has shown it is possible to reduce methane emissions from cattle by up to 40% using a “data-driven” selective breeding approach.

The study, involving more than 4,000 animals at ABP’s demonstration farms in Shropshire and Ireland, found it was possible to encourage the siring of beef animals that were more efficient at converting feed to protein, reaching their target weight earlier and thereby significantly reducing their environmental footprint. 

In addition to the environmental benefits, farmers could improve their economic returns by up to £100 per head due to the reduced cost of production “demonstrating that economic and environmental sustainability can travel hand in hand”, ABP said.

“By harnessing data and information across the entire supply chain from conception to plate this research shows we can further improve economic and environmental performance in a global marketplace, while also satisfying changing consumer desires for more sustainable diets,” said ABP group technical and sustainability director Dean Holroyd.

ABP will now ­commence on a second phase of research studying the benefits of adopting a ‘whole farm’ approach, capturing the latest thinking in animal grazing, precision ­agriculture, land management and biodiversity with the help of independent experts and Harper Adams University. 

Meat and dairy ‘not ready for new rules on climate reporting’