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Animals (Basel). 2016 Sep 8;6(9). pii: E54. doi: 10.3390/ani6090054.

Modelling the Effect of Diet Composition on Enteric Methane Emissions across Sheep, Beef Cattle and Dairy Cows.

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School of Biosciences, The University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough LE12 5RD, UK.
Melbourne School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, 1301 Hazeldean Road, Ellinbank, Victoria 3820, Australia.
Agr-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough T26 6DR, UK.


Enteric methane (CH ₄ ) is a by-product from fermentation of feed consumed by ruminants, which represents a nutritional loss and is also considered a contributor to climate change. The aim of this research was to use individual animal data from 17 published experiments that included sheep ( n = 288), beef cattle ( n = 71) and dairy cows ( n = 284) to develop an empirical model to describe enteric CH ₄ emissions from both cattle and sheep, and then evaluate the model alongside equations from the literature. Data were obtained from studies in the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia, which measured enteric CH ₄ emissions from individual animals in calorimeters. Animals were either fed solely forage or a mixed ration of forage with a compound feed. The feed intake of sheep was restricted to a maintenance amount of 875 g of DM per day (maintenance level), whereas beef cattle and dairy cows were fed to meet their metabolizable energy (ME) requirement (i.e., production level). A linear mixed model approach was used to develop a multiple linear regression model to predict an individual animal's CH ₄ yield (g CH ₄ /kg dry matter intake) from the composition of its diet. The diet components that had significant effects on CH ₄ yield were digestible organic matter (DOMD), ether extract (EE) (both g/kg DM) and feeding level above maintenance intake: CH ₄ (g/kg DM intake) = 0.046 (±0.001) × DOMD - 0.113 (±0.023) × EE - 2.47 (±0.29) × (feeding level - 1), with concordance correlation coefficient ( CCC ) = 0.655 and RMSPE = 14.0%. The predictive ability of the model developed was as reliable as other models assessed from the literature. These components can be used to predict effects of diet composition on enteric CH ₄ yield from sheep, beef and dairy cattle from feed analysis information.


cattle; diet; enteric methane; modelling; prediction; sheep

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