Mitigation potential of plant additives to reduce methane emission in cattle

Nico Peiren, Joaquin Castro Montoya, Leen Vandaele, Sam De Campeneere

    Onderzoeksoutput: Hoofdstuk in Boek/Rapport/CongresprocedureC1: Artikels in proceedings van wetenschappelijke congressen, die niet inbegrepen zijn in A1, A2, A3 of P1peer review


    Methane emitted in ruminant husbandry accounts for about one quarter of all anthropogenic CH4 emissions. This makes CH4 from ruminants and more precise from enteric fermentation a target for abatement measures, which have been rather unsuccessful so far (Beauchemin et al., 2008). The controlled conditions in open-circuit chambers provide an ideal platform for testing mitigation strategies which show lasting effects. If they are found effective at this stage they can be translated to the farm level. During four trial periods the past year and a half, we have collected methane emission data of 20 dairy cows (Holstein Friesian) who were fed typical Flemish rations and 16 beef heifers (Belgian Blue) all fed with the same finishing diet. The aim of the present work was to investigate if additives of plant origin can be used to reduce methane production in cattle.

    Material and methods
    The monitoring system with six individual open-circuit chambers was designed to measure methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions, and to allow feeding and milking, and separate collection of faeces and urine (Peiren and De Campeneere, 2013). This system was used for the long term trials in the SMEthane project ( Each trial was carried out with four animals per treatment. The trial started with an adaptation period of one month. During this period the cows were housed in the adjacent tie-stall for adaptation to the standard ration. This was followed by a control period of two weeks and a treatment period of six weeks with a restricted feed intake at 95% of ad libitum feed intake, to avoid leftovers and ensure the intake of the additive. Each second week cows entered the chambers to measure the methane production individually from Monday afternoon till Friday morning. The gas concentrations were measured with a multigas analyser. Gas samples from all chambers (at each of the six outlets) and the ambient air (two, near the air inlets) were continuously sampled and a gas switching device delivered a sample stream to the gas analyser at intervals of 180 seconds. The last 60 seconds were used to calculate the emissions. The chambers operated at an airflow between 300 and 500 m3 /h. The dairy cows were fed and milked twice daily at 0730 and 1730 h, with concurrent removal of faeces and urine. Four rations were used differing in their proportions of maize silage, grass silage, pressed beet pulp, concentrate, rapeseed and soybean meal. The beef heifers were fed in the morning, with concurrent removal of faeces and urine. The ration was a finishing diet with maize silage and concentrate (50/50 on DM). During the trial we recorded other parameters such as feed intake, milk production, milk composition, body weight, water uptake, etc.
    Within the SMEthane project, ILVO conducted nine in vivo trials with cattle, testing five different additives (1 essential oil, 3 organosulphurous compounds and 1 saponin) from 4 companies (table 1). Five trials were conducted with lactating dairy cows (n=20) and four with beef heifers (n=16).

    Results and Discussion
    None of the additives induced a significant reduction of methane at the proposed dose. There is a huge variation in response to an additive between cows. Whereas some cows show an important decrease in methane when fed a certain additive, other cows do not respond to the same additive. The tested organosulphurous compounds clearly induced a taste and smell to the milk, with the consequence that these additives cannot be fed to lactating dairy cows. The essential oil merits further investigation, because it was usually the most effective and one of the consortium partners found significant methane reduction in dairy cows.

    Beauchemin, K. A., Kreuzer, M., O'Mara, F., and. McAllister, T. A. 2008. Nutritional management for enteric methane abatement: a review. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48(1-2), 21-27.
    Peiren, N. and De Campeneere, S. 2012. Chapter 3: ILVO’s Ruminant Respiration Facility, Melle, Belgium. In Technical Manual on Respiration Chamber design (eds C Pinares and G Waghorn), pp. 43–57. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Wellington, NZ.
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    TitelProceedings of 38th Animal Nutrition Research Forum
    Aantal pagina’s2
    Plaats productieRoeselare
    Uitgeverij38th Animal Nutrition Research Forum
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 21-mei-2013
    Evenement38 th Animal Nutrition Research Forum (2013) - Roeselare, België
    Duur: 21-mei-201321-mei-2013


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