Technological platform to develop nutritional additives to reduce methane emissions from ruminants

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    Small and medium-sized enterprises confront barriers to developing feed additives that may reduce the methane production in ruminants. ILVO, along with 4 other European research institutes, therefore offers a technology platform. The purpose of the platform is to study how these products work, both in vitro and in vivo and globally. In particular the project meets 1) the need to standardize and report the concentration of the active component in the additive; 2) the demand for monitoring the stability of the compounds under practical conditions; 3) the question of persistent effects /adaptation of the rumen ecosystem; 4) the lack of in vivo data on livestock production systems; 5) the need to know the effects of the extracts on the perceived quality of dairy products; and 6) the lack of production data on which to base calculations of market prices.

    Research approach
    The European technological platform is able to adapt the methodology according to the specific questions or development phase in which an additive is situated. ILVO is specialized in the study of long-term effect of the additives. To do so, we place a number of cows (dairy and beef) individually in a high tech (and comfortable for the animal) open-circuit chamber. After an adaptation period, we carry out a feeding trial which consists of a control period of 2 weeks and a treatment period of 6 weeks. We measure the methane production from each animal for three days at the end of every two weeks. Starting on the first day of the treatment period, the additive under study is mixed into the feed. We then compare the methane emissions during the treatment period with that of the control period, and we record parameters such as feed intake, milk production, milk composition, etc.

    The livestock sector has an impact on climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. The main greenhouse gas produced by the livestock sector is methane. The use of additives with a long-term effect reduces methane emissions and mitigates the problem of global warming. In addition to methane reduction, a good additive must also guarantee the quality of the final product (milk and meat).

    External partner(s)
    Aberystwyth University
    EEZ - CSIC estación experimental del Zaidín
    INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - Herbivore Reserach Unit
    Ugent - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen
    Effective start/end date1/12/1030/11/12