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J Dairy Sci. 2011 Jun;94(6):3081-93. doi: 10.3168/jds.2010-4011.

Effect of forage-to-concentrate ratio in dairy cow diets on emission of methane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia, lactation performance, and manure excretion.

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Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison 53706, USA.


Holstein cows housed in a modified tie-stall barn were used to determine the effect of feeding diets with different forage-to-concentrate ratios (F:C) on performance and emission of CH(4), CO(2) and manure NH(3)-N. Eight multiparous cows (means ± standard deviation): 620 ± 68 kg of body weight; 52 ± 34 d in milk and 8 primiparous cows (546 ± 38 kg of body weight; 93 ± 39 d in milk) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 air-flow controlled chambers, constructed to fit 4 cows each. Chambers were assigned to dietary treatment sequences in a single 4 × 4 Latin square design. Dietary treatments, fed as 16.2% crude protein total mixed rations included the following F:C ratio: 47:53, 54:46, 61:39, and 68:32 [diet dry matter (DM) basis]. Forage consisted of alfalfa silage and corn silage in a 1:1 ratio. Cow performance and emission data were measured on the last 7 d and the last 4 d, respectively of each 21-d period. Air samples entering and exiting each chamber were analyzed with a photo-acoustic field gas monitor. In a companion study, fermentation pattern was studied in 8 rumen-cannulated cows. Increasing F:C ratio in the diet had no effect on DM intake (21.1 ± 1.5 kg/d), energy-corrected milk (ECM, 37.4 ± 2.2 kg/d), ECM/DM intake (1.81 ± 0.18), yield of milk fat, and manure excretion and composition; however, it increased milk fat content linearly by 7% and decreased linearly true protein, lactose, and solids-not-fat content (by 4, 1, and 2%, respectively) and yield (by 10, 6, and 6%, respectively), and milk N-to-N intake ratio. On average 93% of the N consumed by the cows in the chambers was accounted for as milk N, manure N, or emitted NH(3)-N. Increasing the F:C ratio also increased ruminal pH linearly and affected concentrations of butyrate and isovalerate quadratically. Increasing the F:C ratio from 47:53 to 68:32 increased CH(4) emission from 538 to 648 g/cow per day, but had no effect on manure NH(3)-N emission (14.1 ± 3.9 g/cow per day) and CO(2) emission (18,325 ± 2,241 g/cow per day). In this trial, CH(4) emission remained constant per unit of neutral detergent fiber intake (1g of CH(4) was emitted for every 10.3g of neutral detergent fiber consumed by the cow), but increased from 14.4 to 18.0 g/kg of ECM when the percentage of forage in the diet increased from 47 to 68%. Although the pattern of emission within a day was distinct for each gas, emissions were higher between morning feeding (0930 h) and afternoon milking (1600 h) than later in the day. Altering the level of forage within a practical range and rebalancing dietary crude protein with common feeds of the Midwest of the United States had no effects on manure NH(3)-N emission but altered CH(4) emission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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