Sheep reproduction and reducing methane emissions

Page last updated: Thursday, 3 February 2022 - 5:24pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Mating ewes earlier (at 8 to 10 months of age) could enable farmers to reduce whole-farm methane production because this practice would reduce the number of adult ewes, which produce more methane.

The Department of Primary Industroes and Rprovide this information to support land manager decisions about investing in carbon farming.

Benefits of managing sheep reproduction to reduce methane emissions

Farmers can alter the level of methane emissions from their sheep through management, including management of ewe mating. 

Ewes are usually mated for the first time at 18–20 months of age: mating ewes at 8–10 months of age could enable farmers to reduce the numbers of adult ewes, and therefore reduce whole-farm methane emissions.

Carbon benefits: there is no approved methodology for in mating ewes earlier to reduce methane emissions.

Opportunities for mating ewes earlier:

  • It is relevant to all sheep enterprises in Western Australia.
  • Mating ewe lambs can reduce total carbon emissions from that flock by 7.5%.

Risks of managing sheep reproduction to reduce methane emissions

Risks associated with this activity:

  • Reducing the reproductive rate of the flock by varying flock structure reduces profitability by much more than the current value of the carbon emissions saved.
  • The reproductive rate achieved from ewe lambs is likely to vary widely between good and poor seasons.
  • If sheep meat prices drop, the incentive to continue mating ewe lambs also drops.

Contact information

Mandy Curnow
+61 (0)8 9892 8422