Better Burps, Better Planet


After a grassy meal, sheep burp—a lot. Those burps release methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. To make sheep more eco-friendly, researchers in New Zealand decided to breed less-gassy sheep. The result: polite sheep that produce 10 percent less methane.

Researchers handpicked sheep that naturally produce low amounts of methane from across New Zealand. They analyzed the burps by putting the sheep in a “fart chamber” that measures the amount of gas released—though methane comes out of the front end only, not the back! Researchers then bred the least-gassy sheep together to create the new flock.

The researchers hope to get their greener sheep onto farms across the country soon. “We can use them as the parents of future flocks and reduce agriculture’s methane emissions,” says project leader Suzanne Rowe. 

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