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J Dairy Sci. 2012 Nov;95(11):6582-90. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-5257. Epub 2012 Sep 7.

The effects of supplementing grazing dairy cows with partial mixed ration on enteric methane emissions and milk production during mid to late lactation.

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Teagasc, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland.


This study compared the enteric CH(4) emissions and milk production of cows offered various grass-based diets during mid to late lactation. Forty-eight spring-calving Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 nutritional treatments for 8 wk: (1) low grass allowance (LGA) + partial mixed ration (PMR), (2) high grass allowance (HGA), or (3) LGA. The PMR group received an allocation of 13.9 kg of grass dry matter (DM)/cow per day and in addition were offered 4.1 kg of PMR DM/cow per day. The HGA group received an allocation of 19.3 kg of grass DM/cow per day and the LGA group received an allocation of 14.4 kg of grass DM/cow per day. The PMR offered was composed of 450 g of maize silage/kg of DM, 450 g of concentrate blend/kg of DM, and 100g of barley straw/kg of DM. Daily CH(4) emissions were determined using the emissions from ruminants using a calibrated tracer technique, using sulfur hexafluoride, for 5 consecutive days during 2 periods. Simultaneously, grass DM intake (DMI) was estimated using the n-alkane technique and the PMR DMI was also recorded. Cows offered PMR had higher DMI than either the HGA or LGA cows (16.5 vs. 14.9 and 13.9 kg of DM/d). The higher DMI of PMR cows increased milk production relative to HGA and LGA cows: milk yield (17.0 vs. 14.6 and 13.1 kg) and fat and protein yield (1.29 vs. 1.14 and 1.04 kg). Daily CH(4) emissions were higher for the PMR group than for the HGA and LGA groups (406 vs. 384 and 349 g/cow per day). The enteric CH(4) emissions intensity per unit of DMI, milk yield, solids-corrected milk yield, and fat and protein yield did not differ between treatments. Effects observed in the PMR treatment were due to an increase in DMI rather than to any nutritional characteristic of the PMR.

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