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Anim Sci J. 2010 Feb;81(1):2-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2009.00687.x.

Factors affecting methane production and mitigation in ruminants.

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National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, Ikenodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Methane (CH(4)) is the second most important greenhouse gas (GHG) and that emitted from enteric fermentation in livestock is the single largest source of emissions in Japan. Many factors influence ruminant CH(4) production, including level of intake, type and quality of feeds and environmental temperature. The objectives of this review are to identify the factors affecting CH(4) production in ruminants, to examine technologies for the mitigation of CH(4) emissions from ruminants, and to identify areas requiring further research. The following equation for CH(4) prediction was formulated using only dry matter intake (DMI) and has been adopted in Japan to estimate emissions from ruminant livestock for the National GHG Inventory Report: Y = -17.766 + 42.793X - 0.849X(2), where Y is CH(4) production (L/day) and X is DMI (kg/day). Technologies for the mitigation of CH(4) emissions from ruminants include increasing productivity by improving nutritional management, the manipulation of ruminal fermentation by changing feed composition, the addition of CH(4) inhibitors, and defaunation. Considering the importance of ruminant livestock, it is essential to establish economically feasible ways of reducing ruminant CH(4) production while improving productivity; it is therefore critical to conduct a full system analysis to select the best combination of approaches or new technologies to be applied under long-term field conditions.

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