The $4.2 million Cool Sheep™ Programme is a three-year programme supported by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries through the Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF). This programme involves sheep stud breeders and commercial farmers, along with a range of additional organisations supporting the enhancement of genetics in the national sheep flock.
Over the next three years, the Cool Sheep™ Programme will put infrastructure in place for the New Zealand sheep industry to continually drive this ground-breaking opportunity beyond the programme duration to continue selecting for low methane genetics and reduce sheep sector GHG emissions.
The Cool Sheep™ Programme comprises four key project workstreams:
1. Ram supply – making low methane rams available.
Combining targeted ram genotyping with methane phenotyping (measuring individual animal methane emissions using PAC trailers), ram breeders will be able to offer commercial farmers a greater supply of low methane rams to reduce emissions while maintaining productivity.
2. nProve enhancement - tracking low methane rams on-farm
Commercial farmers utilising the ram selection tool nProve.nz will have methane reduction as a selectable trait, with rams sold having a clear measure of their predicted impact to lower methane counting in GHG calculations.
3. National Impact – accounting for methane reduction
On-farm GHG calculators will show methane reductions from genetic selection as progeny accumulate, with farmers recognised and rewarded for using low methane genetics to reduce their farm’s overall methane production. The reduction in methane production from the national flock will be captured in the national GHG inventory.
4. Awareness and outreach
Farmers gain the awareness, knowledge, skills and confidence to incorporate low methane rams in their flocks. The wider farming community and general public are aware of progress in methane reduction in national GHG inventories from genetic selection while maintaining and improving productivity at a national scale. The programme will utilise avenues informed by farmer surveys and engagement to ensure our communication is as effective as possible.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand point of contact:
Cynthia Lawrence, Cool Sheep Project Manager