Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What do you get if you cross a cow with a kangaroo?

The Age reports: [edited]

Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane. Scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

"Fourteen per cent of emissions from all sources in Australia is from enteric methane from cattle and sheep," said Athol Klieve, a senior research scientist with the Queensland Government.

"And if you look at another country such as New Zealand, which has got a much higher agricultural base, they're actually up around 50 per cent."

Researchers say the bacteria also makes the digestive process much more efficient and could potentially save millions of dollars in feed costs for farmers and graziers.

Even farmers who laugh at the idea of environmentally friendly kangaroo farts say that's nothing to joke about, particularly given the devastating drought Australia is suffering.

It will take researchers at least three years to isolate the bacteria, before they can even start to develop a way of transferring it to animals such as cattle and sheep.

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