Methane measuring portable accumulation chambers are being rolled out on pedigree sheep flocks currently, according to Teagasc.

Eoin Dunne, who is a sheep technician with Teagasc, said that data on around 3,000 sheep to date has been collected, which measured methane output to get a better understanding of emissions from sheep.

Eoin said that results so far indicate that methane output from a dry ewe averaging 70kg, is 37g/day.

Speaking to Agriland at the recent sheep open day at Athenry, Co. Galway, Eoin said: “It’s a topical area at present.

“In terms of the portable accumulation chambers, it’s a lot loss less labour intensive way of measuring methane output from sheep than other techniques used.

“We can measure the methane output of 72 sheep in one day and roughly 300 a week using the portable accumulation chambers,” he added.

Portable Accumulation Chamber

“I’ve got to commercial farms last year and now are we focusing on pedigree flocks at present.

“This year, firstly, we are focusing on the pedigree farms as they are getting towards their breeding season, with rams being turned out the first week in August.

“So we’ve got to five pedigree farms so far this year, with 550 sheep going through the chambers to date.

“As these chambers have been verified for use, we just want to get out and hit the road and gather as much data as we can from as many sheep that we can,” he explained.

How does the methane-measuring work?

The portable accumulation chambers allow for methane measurements to be taken at a lower cost than other methods, while also allowing for a high throughput of animals.

The chambers are made from polycarbonate sheets that have an internal volume of 827L or 0.8m³.

Animals are removed from feed an hour before entering the chamber. Sheep typically stand in the chamber during their time in it which is for 50 minutes.

Their time in the chamber is made easier and stress-free as they are able to have visual contact with animals in the nearby chambers.

Methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) production, as well as oxygen consumption are measured.