back to article Wallabies battle cattle farts

The Tammar Wallaby’s digestive system is getting agricultural researchers excited, after researchers from Australia’s science agency CSIRO found its gut generates far lower methane emissions than cattle. Methane poses a greenhouse conundrum for policy makers: our dependence on livestock for meat means we keep lots of ruminants …


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  1. Denarius Silver badge

    Oh Noes, they are gonna get hunted to extinction

    So the few left on off-shore islands are going to be "collected" by frantic bug hunters ?

    Foxes introduced by some pommie ate the rest.

    Ironically, the safest survivors are are on an island used for oil and gas drilling.

    Sarah come back, all is forgiven :-)

  2. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton


    Do the culinary boffins intend to enhance this gut bacteria among cows, or switch us all to eating travel-size kangaroos?

    I'm fine with either, btw.

    Paris, because she is also flexible.

    1. Elmer Phud


      We get the cows to eat wallabies instead of grass.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Other animals also fart

    Okay, I know, Homo Sapiens doesn't predigest, but surely in this age of gene splicing SOMETHING could be done? A suffering humanity is waiting breathlessly...

    1. Elmer Phud

      Careful now

      Are you seriously suggesting getting rid of the one thing that us men are good at?

      Icon of a lit fart

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Belching, not farting

      It's the 'pre'-digestion stage that most of the cattle methane comes from.

      You're confusing an El Reg cheap toilet-humour headline gag with the the actual factual shit.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Why don't we just farm and eat the Wallabies?

    We'll have to make the fences a little taller... and milking them might be a bit tricky.

    Mines the roo skin one.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simples

      We could breed them with sheep and get woolly jumpers as well!

      The one right at the back with dust on the collar, thanks!

    2. Mips

      Don't blame the animals...

      ...blame the bugs!

  5. Tim Bates


    I'm reading this as CSIRO is attempting to develop a bacteria strain that can be stuck into the guts of cattle to reduce their farts... Right?

    As a rural dweller, I'm so looking forward to seeing ads for commercial products that come from this... There's already an ad where they've photoshopped exhaust pipes onto cattle - should be easy enough to modify that one!

  6. Andrew Moore


    Are we taking about attaching wallabies to cattle? A sort of 'Macropine/Bovine Centipede' type thing...

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Lets see...

    One Cow: 1/2 a ton of masticating beef, consuming 10kg of grass a day. On a good day.

    One Wallabee: 5kg of furry cuteness, consuming 250g of mixed vegetation a day.

    Now...i wonder which one produces the most methane...? The big one...or the wee one?

    Now...if wallabees were the size of cows...all I can say is that's the Friday-afternoon-pub-nonsense subject sorted...

    1. Some Beggar


      [double facepalm]

      [triple facepalm with added sighing and head shaking]

    2. wheel

      School daze

      Good morning class. Today we are going to look at percentages. A percentage is a fraction – Jones, stop picking your nose and flicking it at Davis – I'm sure he doesn't like it, do you Davis? – Oh, very well, carry on.

      So a percentage is like a fraction. To demonstrate, we will take the example of a wallaby and a cow – No, Jones, I did not mean the headmistress.

      Suppose a wallaby turns 1% of its food into methane, while the cow turns 10% into methane. The cow produces considerably more methane than the wallaby, but you might expect that because the cow is much bigger and bulkier than the wallaby – Thank you Jones, I am not saying the headmistress is fat. – The pies have nothing to do with it; she has a thyroid condition. – No, Davis does not have a thyroid condition, do you Davis? – Oh, very well, carry on.

      So the cow emits more methane because it is bigger and eats more food. But consider a giant wallaby, five times the size of a cow JONES GET DOWN FROM THERE – I did NOT ask you to portray a giant wallaby, merely to consider one. – I am perfectly aware that visual metaphors are a useful reinforcement to the educational process. – So if you are a giant wallaby, where is the cow for comparison? – What was that, Davis? – Oh, very well, carry on.

      So, Jones is portraying our giant wallaby – No Jones, not Wallzilla, just an ordinary giant wallaby. – No you cannot breathe fire. – I am aware that methane is flammable but you do not have a lighter. – Give that here! You can't use it anyway: you are a wallaby and lack opposable thumbs. Ha!

      Anyway, Jones is a giant wallaby and Davis is now a comparatively small cow, a fifth the size. As Jones is much bigger than Davis we might expect him to emit more methane, around five times as much as the cow. However, because wallabies emit a much lower *percentage* of methane (1% rather than 10%), the giant wallaby would emit 1/10th of a cow of equivalent size. Assuming a normal sized cow emits 1 standard cow unit (SCU) of methane, a cow-sized wallaby would emit 1/10th of an SCU. As Jones is five times the size of Davis – no, Jones, I'm not saying that you are fat – he will emit 5/10ths of an SCU, or around half the methane of the much smaller cow.

      COWARD! COWARD! WAKE UP! Have you heard a word I've said? – I mean about percentages! Hold on a minute – JONES, STOP TRYING TO LIGHT DAVIS'S FARTS!

  8. h4rm0ny

    It's probably a stupid question...

    ...but why can't we all just go vegetarian? It would have a tremendous positive effect on the planet.

    1. Some Beggar

      Because meat tastes gooooood.

      Large numbers of people reducing the amount of meat they eat is more likely and more beneficial than small numbers of hairshirted people giving up meat altogether.

      Mmmmm. Meat.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      One word answer

      >>...but why can't we all just go vegetarian? It would have a

      >>tremendous positive effect on the planet.


    3. beerandbiscuits


      You can be in charge of killing all the sheep, cattle, deer, goats, hens &C &c that will be surplus to requirements and which no one will want to feed any more.

      I've got a big freezer - keep in touch.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Oh Noes

        "You can be in charge of killing all the sheep, cattle, deer, goats, hens &C &c that will be surplus to requirements and which no one will want to feed any more."

        Oh, no, no, let them live... Oh. Wait a minute. :-)

        I'm not sure that reading this article wasn't a lapse of principle, since all Register "Environment" coverage is basically Jeremy Clarkson bullshit.

        Wallabies not farting methane was mentioned in BBC tv's [QI] panel quiz game in 2006.

    4. SirTainleyBarking

      Its not quite as simple as that

      If the whole of the earth was decent arable land, there could be a case for that. However even in this country there are acres of productive land such as the Welsh hills, which are only suitable for growing fairly low yields of grass. Sheep are very good at making this sort of thing work, as are animals such as goats in areas such as sub saharan africa where the only thing in abundance is woody scrub.

      There is an argument, however, to decrease meat consumption to a degree, and that I'd broadly support provided bacon was supplied on a regular basis

    5. Denarius Silver badge

      extinction is forever

      yes, because I don't want to see many animals become extinct. You know, those ones bred to be of use, cows, sheep, chooks,ducks and similar. And the massive loss of food sources would cause real starvation in 2nd and 3rd world. Grazing animals turn useless vegetation, aka grass, into food. Much pastoral land is not much good for farming. Irrigating it much is also not a good thing. Lack of water anyway, salination, river damage. If much range land is turned back to grass, it burns. Or the local wild ruminants breed and fart. Oh dear, more green house gas and no benefit.

      Geenies, simple idealist for a complex world.

      Try reading PJ O'Rouke sometime, say "Give War a chance" Unlike his critics, he is witty, accurate and sometimes right. You might learn something from that reformed hippy.

  9. Thomas 4

    This article just a lot of hot air. And it smells.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      At least you didn't

      follow through the argument.

  10. alwarming

    I guess the point of the article is role of the bacteria, but...


  11. Steven Roper
    Thumb Up

    'roo meat is wonderful stuff

    It contains zero fat (the meat is all muscle with no white stuff in it), is tender when fried or grilled, and has a rich, savoury taste to it that beats beef hands down. The main problem with it is that, having zero fat, it can dry out very quickly in cooking, so you either need to stew it or add oil when cooking it.

    Here in Australia it's also the cheapest meat, on account of the limited number of people prepared to eat it (despite popular perception, most Australians are just as squeamish about eating meat other than chicken/turkey/mutton/beef/pork/fish as any Western country!). If you can get it, try it.

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      not travelled much ?

      Roo meat (Ok,OK, wallabies are not roos until they smash your radiator) is not that tasty, IMNSHO. Even a decent sheep tastes better if young enough.

      Try beef from the Alice sometime. Qld may produce decent beef one day when they discover shoe leather is not good eating. The rest are mereley adequate, except for Top End which beats Qld beef in Rockwell scale comfortably.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        I love Roo meat!

        Roo Meat is one of the few things ive missed since leaving our sunny shores... That and some proper Fish and Chips...

        Healthy and with a great taste... and just think that if it does manage to become popular, it will start being farmed rather then just being from the cull and then we can start making even better tasting varieties, higher quality meat... my mouth is watering at the thought... Yum!

  12. Nick Galloway

    Wallaby farming

    Rather than bugger about getting cows and sheep to stop being 'heavy polluters', let's just farm and eat wallabies!

    Otherwise let's just get real and tell the chicken little's in the climate change lobby that the sky isn't falling and getting a cow to hold its breath is not going to solve or change anything. As an aside, decaying vegetation in fields generates methane and other greenhouse gases. Starvation here we come!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    less methan results in less rain.

    so if the kangaroos do not produce it, No wonder it is so dry in australia.

    Maybe tehy should introduce more cattle to get the weather right.

  14. Some Beggar

    The main ecomonic and environmental problem with beef

    is that producing it in feed lots requires a large quantity of grain that in turn requires a large quantity of fossil fuels. Beefy farts are a bit of a red herring.

    Which is one of Heston Blumenthal's best new dishes.

    1. Denarius Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      so use grass ?

      except for the export market and the local idiots, most meat in Oz is grass fed, and healthier for the animal and eater of animal. If the herbivores are not eaten, the rain turned into vegetable matter is not used. This is also called waste.

      Agree feed lotting cattle on grains is not sensible use of food though.

      1. Some Beggar


        Herbivores eating grass, predators eating herbivores and grass growing in shit is basically a closed loop for carbon. Albeit with the slightly smelly sub-loop of methane farts.

        The amount of beef the world can produce on grass would be much reduced though, so the burger-munching generation in the west would have to cut back.

        (Which probably wouldn't be a bad thing given the obesity epidemic.)

  15. streeeeetch


    How exactly do you get round to accidentally sampling a wallaby fart?

    1. anarchic-teapot


      Like this, presumably:

  16. copsewood

    "all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind"

    So says Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:14 . This kind of research is meaningless, unless and until comparisons are made with methane release from alternative land uses. Methane isn't called marsh gas for no reason but that isn't a good reason to lose the biodiversity which comes from draining marshes. Wild animals fart too.

  17. Joe User

    Re: It's probably a stupid question...

    > ...but why can't we all just go vegetarian?

    Because then human methane output would skyrocket.

  18. Alan Esworthy

    Oh, waiter!

    Mozo, traigame por favor huevos rancheros con frijoles refritos con salsa de ajo y Succinivibrionaceae

  19. Peter Christy

    Wake up at the back there....!

    1) Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (we are told).

    2) Methane is an excellent fuel for internal combustion engines.

    3) The exhaust from 2 is carbon dioxide and water!

    So why aren't we bottling methane from sewage plants, and running our cars on it? Global warming and oil shortages solved at a stroke!

    Google for the "Harold Bate Gas Converter"!

    And far more practical than all this electric rubbish! Not to mention the safety aspects! We've all seen what happens when LiPo batteries are damaged, yet seem willing to hurl ourselves down motorways in tin-cans stuffed with the things! Do the manufacturers think we are stark, staring mad???



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