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J Anim Sci. 2006 Jul;84(7):1896-906.

Efficacy of ionophores in cattle diets for mitigation of enteric methane.

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Department of Animal Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2.


Use of ionophores in cattle diets has been proposed as a strategy for mitigation of enteric CH4 emissions. Short- and long-term effects of feeding a single ionophore (monensin) or rotation of 2 ionophores (monensin and lasalocid) on enteric CH4 emissions were evaluated in 36 Angus yearling steers (328 +/- 24.9 kg of BW) over a 16-wk period. Steers were randomly assigned to 6 dietary treatments of 6 steers each. The 6 diets were low-concentrate without ionophore supplementation, low-concentrate with monensin supplementation, low-concentrate with a 2-wk rotation of monensin and lasalocid supplementation, high-concentrate without ionophore supplementation, high-concentrate with monensin supplementation, and high-concentrate with a 2-wk rotation of monensin and lasalocid supplementation. Daily enteric CH4 emissions, as measured using the SF(6) tracer gas technique, ranged from 54.7 to 369.3 L/steer daily. Supplementing ionophores decreased (P < 0.05) enteric CH4 emissions, expressed as liters per kilogram of DMI or percentage of GE intake, by 30% for the first 2 wk and by 27% for the first 4 wk, for cattle receiving the high-concentrate and low-concentrate diets, respectively. Cattle fed a rotation of ionophores did not (P > 0.05) exhibit a greater decrease and did not (P > 0.05) have a longer period of depressed enteric CH4 emissions compared with cattle receiving monensin only. Ionophore supplementation did not (P > 0.05) alter total ruminal fluid VFA concentration; however, the acetate:propionate ratio and ammonia-N concentration in ruminal fluid were decreased (P < 0.001) from the time that ionophores were introduced to the time they were removed from the diets. Both monensin and the rotation of monensin and lasalocid decreased (P < 0.001) total ciliate protozoal populations by 82.5% in the first 2 wk and by 76.8% in the first 4 wk during which they were supplemented in the high-concentrate and low-concentrate diets, respectively. Original ciliate protozoal populations were restored by the fourth and sixth week of supplementation when cattle were fed the high- or low-concentrate diets, respectively. No significant change was observed thereafter. These data suggest that the effects of ionophores on enteric CH(4) production are related to ciliate protozoal populations and that ciliate protozoal populations can adapt to the ionophores present in either low- or high-concentrate diets. Rotation of monensin and lasalocid did not (P > 0.05) prevent ciliate protozoal adaptation to ionophores.

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