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Environ Monit Assess. 2005 Aug;107(1-3):329-50.

Effect of the carbohydrate composition of feed concentratates on methane emission from dairy cows and their slurry.

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Institute of Animal Sciences, Animal Nutrition, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), ETH Centre/LFW CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland.


Dietary carbohydrate effects on methane emission from cows and their slurry were measured on an individual animal basis. Twelve dairy cows were fed three of six diets each (n = 6 per diet) of a forage-to-concentrate ratio of 1 : 1 (dry matter basis), and designed to cover the cows' requirements. The forages consisted of maize and grass silage, and hay. Variations were exclusively accomplished in the concentrates which were either rich in lignified or non-lignified fiber, pectin, fructan, sugar or starch. To measure methane emission, cows were placed into open-circuit respiration chambers and slurry was stored for 14 weeks in 60-L barrels with slurry being intermittently connected to this system. The enteric and slurry organic matter digestibility and degradation was highest when offering Jerusalem artichoke tubers rich in fructan, while acid-detergent fiber digestibility and degradation were highest in cows and slurries with the soybean hulls diet rich in non-lignified fiber. Multiple regression analysis, based on nutrients either offered or digested, suggested that, when carbohydrate variation is done in concentrate, sugar enhances enteric methanogenesis. The methane emission from the slurry accounted for 16.0 to 21.9% of total system methane emission. Despite a high individual variation, the methane emission from the slurry showed a trend toward lower values, when the diet was characterized by lignified fiber, a diet where enteric methane release also had been lowest. The study disproved the assumption that a lower enteric methanogenesis, associated with a higher excretion of fiber, will inevitably lead to compensatory increases in methane emission during slurry storage.

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