Main research question/goal
This project focuses on the methane emissions from dairy cows. We look for parameters in the milk that are reliably related to the actual methane emissions from the animal. The larger underlying objective is to find realistic measures to decrease the emissions (with a main focus on methane) from ruminants. Finding these measures is the main topic of another project, "Methane emissions from cattle in Flanders and opportunities to reduce methane emissions." Two crucial conditions to convince farmers to apply such measures in practice are financial intrest for the farmer and objective measurements to quantify the effects. The goal of this research is to find a parameter in the milk that is well correlated to methane emission which can also be determined easily and frequently from milk samples.Research approach
This research approach is similar to that ILVO used in milk urea research, where we proved that the milk urea content is a useful parameter to evaluate the protein balance in the rumen. To find parameter(s) that can predict methane emissions, we make in vivo methane measurements and also collect milk samples from feeding experiments that clearly lead to great differences in methane production. Then we search for relationships between them and calculate the predictive value of different parameters in the milk.Relevance/Valorisation
Implementing methane reducing (dietary) measures in the livestock sector first requires a careful plan. We expect the farmer to demand evidence that the measures are working effectively as well as a financial incentive. The government or the dairy processing industry will only be willing to take these measures if they have proof that the methane emissions actually do decrease. Consequently, a control tool for on-farm, objective evaluation of methane emissions is vital. This study provides the fundamental knowledge which forms the basis of such a control tool.
ILVO - Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en voedingsonderzoek
Ugent - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen