Researchers from the University of Briston and the Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research Centre in Ireland have found a link between methane production and levels of a compound called archaeol in the feces of several fore-gut fermenting animals, including cows, sheep and deer. The compound could potentially be developed as a biomarker to estimate the methane production from domestic and wild animals, allowing scientists to more accurately assess the contribution that ruminants make to global greenhouse-gas emissions.

The scientists say that when it comes to calculating carbon budgets, there is currently a lot of uncertainty surrounding animal methane contributions, particularly from wild ruminants. In addition, study results seem to confirm that manipulating the diet of domestic livestock could also be an important way of controlling methane-gas emissions. The results were published in the journal Animal Feed Science and Technology.