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J Anim Sci. 1998 Mar;76(3):906-14.

Methane output and lactation response in Holstein cattle with monensin or unsaturated fat added to the diet.

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Centre for Food and Animal Research, Research Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, ON.


We measured effects of continuous vs twice-daily feeding, the addition of unsaturated fat to the diet, and monensin on milk production, milk composition, feed intake, and CO2-methane production in four experiments in a herd of 88 to 109 milking Holsteins. Methane and CO2 production increased with twice-daily feeding, but the CO2:CH4 ratio remained unchanged. Soybean oil did not affect the milkfat percentages, but fatty acid composition was changed. All saturated fatty acids up to and including 16:0 decreased (P < .01), whereas 18:0 and trans 18:1 increased (P < .001). The 18:2 conjugated dienes also increased (P < .01) when the cows were fed soybean oil. Monensin addition to the diet at 24 ppm decreased methane production (P < .01); the CO2:CH4 ratios reached 15, milk production increased (P < .01), and milkfat percentage and total milkfat output decreased (P < .01), as did feed consumption, compared with cows fed diets without monensin (P < .05). Milk fatty acid composition showed evidence of depressed ruminal biohydrogenation: saturated fatty acids (P < .05) decreased and 18:1 increased (P < .001); most of the increase was seen in the trans 18:1 isomer. As with soybean oil feeding, addition of monensin also increased (P < .05) the concentration of conjugated dienes. The monensin feeding trial was repeated 161 d later with 88 cows, of which 67 received monensin in the diet in the first trial and 21 cows were newly freshened and had never received monensin. Methane production again decreased (P < .05), but this time the CO2:CH4 ratio did not change and all other monensin-related effects were absent. The ruminal microflora in the cows that had previously received monensin seemed to have undergone some adaptive changes and no longer responded as before.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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