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The lore of low methane livestock: co-producing technology and animals for reduced climate change impact

Bruce, A

Life Sciences, Society and Policy   9 (10)

DOI: 10.1186/2195-7819-9-10

October 2013

Methane emissions from sheep and cattle production have gained increasing profile in the context of climate change. Policy and scientific research communities have suggested a number of technological approaches to mitigate these emissions. This paper uses the concept of co-production as an analytical framework to understand farmers’ evaluation of a 'good animal’. It examines how technology and sheep and beef cattle are co-produced in the context of concerns about the climate change impact of methane. Drawing on 42 semi-structured interviews, this paper demonstrates that methane emissions are viewed as a natural and integral part of sheep and beef cattle by farmers, rather than as a pollutant. Sheep and beef cattle farmers in the UK are found to be an extremely heterogeneous group that need to be understood in their specific social, environmental and consumer contexts. Some are more amenable to appropriating methane reducing measures than others, but largely because animals are already co-constructed from the natural and the technical for reasons of increased production efficiency.

Climate change; Sheep; Cattle; Methane; Genetics; Co-production

Article to download, LSSP Journal website (PDF, 720KB)