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J Anim Sci. 2010 Aug;88(8):2703-16. doi: 10.2527/jas.2009-2750. Epub 2010 Apr 9.

Methane emissions, feed intake, performance, digestibility, and rumen fermentation of finishing beef cattle offered whole-crop wheat silages differing in grain content.

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Teagasc, Grange Beef Research Centre, Dunsany, Co. Meath, Ireland.


This study aimed to quantify the methane emissions and feed intake, performance, carcass traits, digestibility, and rumen fermentation characteristics of finishing beef cattle offered diets based on whole-crop wheat (WCW) silages differing in grain content and to rank these relative to diets based on grass silage (GS) and ad libitum concentrates (ALC). In Exp. 1, a total of 90 continental crossbred steers [538 +/- 27.6 kg of BW (mean +/- SD)] were blocked by BW and assigned in a randomized complete block design to 1 of 6 treatments based on 4 WCW silages [grain-to-straw plus chaff ratios of 11:89 (WCW I), 21:79 (WCW II), 31:69 (WCW III), and 47:53 (WCW IV)], GS, and ALC. Increasing grain content in WCW silage resulted in a quadratic (P = 0.01) response in DMI, with a linear (P < 0.001) increase in carcass gain [CG; 577 (WCW I), 650 (WCW II), 765 (WCW III), and 757 g/d (WCW IV)]. The G:F also increased linearly (P < 0.001) in response to increasing the grain content of WCW silage. A quadratic (P < 0.01) response in daily methane output [295 (WCW I), 315 (WCW II), 322 (WCW III), and 273 g/d (WCW IV)], measured using the sulfur hexafluoride tracer technique, was observed in response to increasing the grain content of WCW; however, linear decreases were observed when expressed relative to DMI (P = 0.01) and CG (P < 0.001). Cattle offered GS exhibited carcass gains similar to those offered WCW silage diets and had greater methane emissions than cattle in any other treatment when expressed relative to DMI. Cattle offered ALC exhibited greater (P < 0.01) carcass gains and decreased (P < 0.001) methane emissions, irrespective of the unit of expression, compared with cattle in any of the silage-based treatments. In Exp. 2, rumen fermentation parameters were determined using 4 ruminally cannulated Rotbunde-Holstein steers (413 +/- 30.1 kg of BW) randomly allocated among WCW I, the average of WCW II and III (WCW II/III), WCW IV, and GS in a 4 x 4 Latin square design. Ruminal pH and total VFA concentration did not differ across dietary treatments. Molar proportion of acetic acid decreased (P = 0.01), with propionic acid tending to increase (P = 0.06) with increasing grain content. It was concluded that increasing the grain content of WCW silage reduced methane emissions relative to DMI and CG and improved animal performance. However, the relativity of GS to WCW in terms of methane emissions was dependent on the unit of expression used. Cattle offered ALC exhibited decreased methane emissions and greater performance than those offered any of the silage-based treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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