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Open Access Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 56(3)

A universal equation to predict methane production of forage-fed cattle in Australia

E. Charmley A G, S. R. O. Williams B, P. J. Moate B, R. S. Hegarty C, R. M. Herd D, V. H. Oddy D, P. Reyenga E, K. M. Staunton E, A. Anderson F and M. C. Hannah B

A CSIRO Agriculture, Private Mail Bag PO Aitkenvale, Townsville, Qld 4814, Australia.
B Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, 1301 Hazeldean Road, Ellinbank, Vic. 3821, Australia.
C Environmental and Rural Sciences, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.
D NSW Department of Primary Industries, Beef Industry Centre, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.
E Department of the Environment, GPO Box 787, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia.
F Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Spyglass Beef Research Facility, MS 99, Charters Towers, Qld 4820, Australia.
G Corresponding author. Email: ed.charmley@csiro.au

Animal Production Science 56(3) 169-180 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AN15365
Submitted: 10 July 2015  Accepted: 6 November 2015   Published: 9 December 2015

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The methods for estimating methane emissions from cattle as used in the Australian national inventory are based on older data that have now been superseded by a large amount of more recent data. Recent data suggested that the current inventory emissions estimates can be improved. To address this issue, a total of 1034 individual animal records of daily methane production (MP) was used to reassess the relationship between MP and each of dry matter intake (DMI) and gross energy intake (GEI). Data were restricted to trials conducted in the past 10 years using open-circuit respiration chambers, with cattle fed forage-based diets (forage >70%). Results from diets considered to inhibit methanogenesis were omitted from the dataset. Records were obtained from dairy cattle fed temperate forages (220 records), beef cattle fed temperate forages (680 records) and beef cattle fed tropical forages (133 records). Relationships were very similar for all three production categories and single relationships for MP on a DMI or GEI basis were proposed for national inventory purposes. These relationships were MP (g/day) = 20.7 (±0.28) × DMI (kg/day) (R2 = 0.92, P < 0.001) and MP (MJ/day) = 0.063 (±0.008) × GEI (MJ/day) (R2 = 0.93, P < 0.001). If the revised MP (g/day) approach is used to calculate Australia’s national inventory, it will reduce estimates of emissions of forage-fed cattle by 24%. Assuming a global warming potential of 25 for methane, this represents a 12.6 Mt CO2-e reduction in calculated annual emissions from Australian cattle.

Additional keywords: beef, dairy, emissions intensity, tropical.


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