10187AGR_RM_Profile-300819-Final.pdf (1.32 MB)

New Zealand and rumen microbiology

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posted on 2023-05-03, 19:21 authored by Sinead LeahySinead Leahy
Agriculture is a major contributor to New Zealand’s economy and each year the sector generates around 35% of the country’s export revenue. New Zealand exports are sought after internationally and most of the meat, wool, and milk that is produced is exported. New Zealand operates predominantly grass-based livestock systems, in which animals graze outside all year round. Ruminant animals such as cows, sheep and deer are our most important farmed animals, and there is a population of over 38 million ruminants (Stats NZ, 2017). However, the agricultural sector in New Zealand is facing some stern challenges. While farming has long been the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, and is a significant part of its cultural and aesthetic landscape (Image 1), it is also a significant contributor to some of the nation’s environmental issues. For example, almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions (48% in 2017) come from agriculture, comprising methane and nitrous oxide from mainly ruminant sources. It is therefore critical that New Zealand scientists remain at the forefront in the development of environmentally sustainable pastoral production systems. Understanding the functions of rumen microbes has an important role in this development, and as such, has had a long history and focus in New Zealand.


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Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA)

Journal title

Livestock Research Group Newsletter


Leahy, S. (2019). New Zealand and rumen microbiology. Livestock Research Group Newsletter, October 2019.

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