Heritability of methane emission in young Norwegian Red bulls estimated from GreenFeed measures at the test station


  • Bjørg Heringstad
  • Karoline Bakke Geno Breeding and A.I. Association, Norway


The aim of this study was to estimate heritability of methane (CH4) emissions for young Norwegian Red bulls. Measures of CH4 from a GreenFeed (GF) unit at Geno’s test station for young bull was available. Bull calves arrive the test station 3-4 months old and are grouped in pens with on average 10 calves. Methane is measured the last 1-2 months before they leave the test station, at 11-12 months age. On average each bull had 40 days with CH4 data. We used data recorded from September 2020 to April 2023 and the final dataset had records from a total of 76 094 GF visits from 212 bulls. The mean (standard deviation) was 218 (50) gram CH4 per bull per day. The traits analyzed were gram CH4 per day, measured per GF visit or computed as the average of the bull’s individual visits each day. A linear animal repeatability model with fixed effects of age and group-testday, and random effects of animal and permanent environment were used to estimate variance components. The estimated heritability (standard error) was 0.24 (0.10) for CH4 per visit and 0.56 (0.20) for CH4 mean per day, with repeatability of 0.32 and 0.71, respectively. The predicted breeding values for bulls with phenotype varied from -37 to +60, with standard errors ranging from 12 to 15. Results so far are promising, the genetic variation for CH4 in the Norwegian Red breed indicates that breeding for lower methane emission is feasible.