Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Sheep farmers of West Dorset, hang on

AT A TIME when I know that many of our local farmers are worried to the point of distraction, and see no real future for those sheep wandering around their fields, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. From the other side of the world may well come the future for West Dorset’s agricultural economy.

Sheep: Their belching is concerning researchers. Photograph by Nigel Chadwick, reused under Creative Commons Licence.

Those devilishly clever boffins on the Australian Sheep Cooperative Research Council have discovered that some 90% of the methane released by sheep into the atmosphere comes from belching. And they’ve decided that this has got to stop.

So to save a reluctant planet from destroying itself they have put aside their boomerangs and beers and are busily breeding the sort of sheep that has more acceptable table manners. It seems that flatulence isn’t the problem that I might have imagined; apparently, it’s horses wreaking havoc on the atmosphere with that.

No, with the woolly lot, it’s the old-fashioned belch that is going to do for us all.

It gets better.

In New South Wales the cobbers in white coats have built special pens where they can measure exactly how much pollutant a sheep emits each day. Now there’s a job for a grown man.

In a fever of discovery they are all getting in on the act. Another branch of the Australian Sheep Cooperative Research Council now tells us that 66% of agricultural emissions come as methane from the guts of farm animals.

Are you frightened yet?

You certainly should be.

Because of that methane, 90% comes back out of the mouth and not from the blunt end, as we had always thought.

But there is hope on the horizon. Already they’ve discovered that the more a sheep eats, the more it belches. Well, there’s a few million Aussie dollars well spent. Now comes the difficult bit – knocking up an ovine creature that you could take to tea with your maiden aunt.

No stone is being left unturned in the constant battle to prevent the donators of mutton sending us all back to the Stone Age.

Tirelessly are scientists striving to prevent catastrophe for mankind at the hand, hooves and bellies of our farm animals.

I, for one, will rest that little bit easier in my bed tonight sound in the knowledge that there are those in the world seeking our salvation.

Advance Australia Fair.

Farmers of West Dorset hang on just a little longer – the cavalry are on the horizon.