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Reducing emissions from livestock research program

The Australian Government’s Reducing Emissions from Livestock Research Program (RELRP) was a three year national collaborative program coordinated by Meat & Livestock Australia.

The program aimed to develop knowledge and technologies on methane emissions to enable producers to reduce livestock emissions while maintaining or improving livestock productivity.

RELRP ran from 2009-2012 and was focussed on:

  • methane mitigation from the rumen of sheep and cattle; and
  • methane and nitrous oxide from feedlot manure. 

Primary Outcome

More accurate knowledge of methane emissions, the levels of mitigation possible and production impacts using a range of strategies.

Further work is required to refine the findings from RELRP and further explore reduction options. This is now being undertaken in a new body of research – the National Livestock Methane Program – coordinated by MLA with co-investment funding of $14.4 million from DAFF and $3.5 million from MLA over a three year program.


  • Identify inherited variations in methane output which could be used in animal selection and breeding
  • Explore the effect of feed additives/rumen treatment(s) on methane output
  • Examine the effects of different forages, especially natives, on methane output
  • Explore ways to improve the measurement of methane in the field
  • Understand the roles and responses of various rumen microbes involved in methane production
  • Measure gas losses from feedlot manure and test the effects of various mitigating treatments

Key Outcomes:

  • Preliminary results indicate that it will be possible to identify sires whose progeny will produce less methane.
  • Feed supplements – dietary oil and grape marc have shown promising results for reducing methane.
  • Several forageshave been identified as having immediate, persistent and maintained methane reduction impact when included as part of a mixed diet.
  • Nitrate supplements have consistently and rapidly reduced methane production, however further understanding of its potential toxicity impact is required.
  • Online calculator – FarmGAS has been developed and launched to allow producers to explore abatement options.

More RELRP Outcomes

Did you know?

northern-cattle.jpgLivestock emissions account for about 10% of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions and about two thirds of the total emissions from agriculture – the result of digestion  in ruminant animals. 

In addition to livestock emissions (methane), there are emissions from stockpiled manure which comprise around 4% of the total agriculture emissions.

  • The digestion of ruminant animals produces a waste by-product – methane. As well as being the most potent greenhouse gas, it is a waste of energy.  If the energy used to produce methane could be redirected, animal growth could be improved.
  • The Australian Government has instituted the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) to support farmers who reduce emissions.  This initiative aims to deliver financial incentives to farmers who use CFI approved technologies which reduce emissions.

Program partners

RELRP ran from 2009-2012 and was supported with $15.5 million, comprising:

  • $11.25 million from Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry under the Australian Government’s Climate Change Research Program
  • $3.4 million from Meat & Livestock Australia
  • $0.8 million from other R&D Corporations and research partners

The project was supported by the following collaborating organisations:

  • Australian Farm Institute
  • Australian Wool Innovation
  • Dairy Australia
  • Department of Primary Industries Victoria
  • Sheep CRC
  • South Australian Research and Development Institute
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of New England
  • University of Queensland
  • University of Western Australia
  • University of Wollongong