Quantification and prediction of enteric methane emissions from Chinese lactating Holstein dairy cows fed diets with different dietary neutral detergent fiber/non-fibrous carbohydrate (NDF/NFC) ratios.

Dec. 29,2021
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Methane (CH4) emissions from ruminant production are a significant source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas production, but few studies have examined the enteric CH4 emissions of lactating dairy cows under different feeding regimes in China.

The research team, led by Diao Qiyu from Feed Research Institute from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) investigates the influence of different dietary neutral detergent fiber/non-fibrous carbohydrate (NDF/NFC) ratios on production performance, nutrient digestibility, and CH4 emissions for Holstein dairy cows at various stages of lactation, and evaluated the performance of CH4 prediction equations developed using local dietary and milk production variables as compared to previously published prediction equations developed in other production regimes.

In this study, 36 lactating cows were assigned to one of three treatments with differing dietary NDF/NFC ratios: low (NDF/NFC=1.19), medium (NDF/NFC=1.54), and high (NDF/NFC=1.68). A modified acid-insoluble ash method was used to determine nutrient digestibility, while the sulfur hexafluoride technique was used to measure enteric CH4 emissions.

The results showed that the dry matter (DM) intake of cows at the early, middle, and late stages of lactation decreased significantly (P<0.01) from 20.9 to 15.4 kg d-1, from 15.3 to 11.6 kg d-1, and from 16.4 to 15.0 kg d-1 as dietary NDF/NFC ratios increased. Across all three treatments, DM and gross energy (GE) digestibility values were highest (P<0.05) for cows at the middle and late lactation stages. Daily CH4 emissions increased linearly (P<0.05), from 325.2 to 391.9 kg d-1, from 261.0 to 399.8 kg d-1, and from 241.8 to 390.6 kg d-1, as dietary NDF/NFC ratios increased during the early, middle, and late stages of lactation. CH4 emissions expressed per unit of metabolic body weight, DM intake, NDF intake, or fat-corrected milk yield increased with increasing dietary NDF/NFC ratios.

In addition, CH4 emissions expressed per unit of GE intake increased significantly (P<0.05), from 4.87 to 8.12%, from 5.16 to 9.25%, and from 5.06 to 8.17%, as dietary NDF/NFC ratios increased during the early, middle, and late lactation stages.

The modelling results showed that the equation using DM intake as the single variable yielded a greater R2 than equations using other dietary or milk production variables. When the data obtained from each lactation stage were combined, DM intake remained a better predictor of CH4 emissions (R2=0.786, P=0.026) than any other variable tested. Compared to the prediction equations developed herein, previously published equations had greater levels of root mean square prediction error, reflecting their inability to accurately predict CH4 emissions levels for Chinese Holstein dairy cows.

The quantification of CH4 production by lactating dairy cows under Chinese production systems and the development of associated prediction equations will be useful for establishing regional or national CH4 inventories and the improvement of mitigation approaches to dairy production.

The original research paper is available in https://www.chinaagrisci.com/Jwk_zgnykxen/EN/10.1016/S2095-3119(21)63825-X

Corresponding Author: DONG Lifeng
Email: donglifeng@caas.cn
CNKI Press Officer: LI Jingjing YANG Na
Email: ljj6806@cnki.net yn6791@cnki.net

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