Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Effect of measurement duration in respiration chambers on methane traits of beef cattle

P. F. Arthur A E , K. A. Donoghue B , T. Bird-Gardiner B , R. M. Herd C and R. S. Hegarty D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A NSW Department of Primary Industries, Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, Menangle, NSW 2568, Australia.

B NSW Department of Primary Industries, Agricultural Research Centre, Trangie, NSW 2823, Australia.

C NSW Department of Primary Industries, Beef Industry Centre, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

D Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: paul.arthur@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15425
Submitted: 6 August 2015  Accepted: 7 January 2016   Published online: 5 April 2016

Abstract

Records on 1043 young Angus heifer and bull progeny from 73 sires, measured for methane production in respiration chambers, were used to evaluate the accuracy of a 1-day measurement relative to 2-day measurement duration. The traits assessed were dry matter intake (DMI, kg/day), methane-production rate (MPR, g/day), methane yield (MY, MPR per unit DMI) and four residual methane (RMP, g/day) traits. The RMP traits were computed as actual MPR minus expected MPR, where the expected MPR were calculated from three widely used equations. The expected MPR for the fourth RMP trait was computed by regressing MPR on DMI, using the data from the study. Variance components, heritability, phenotypic and genetic correlations, and the efficiency of selection using 1-day compared with 2-day measurement were used as assessment criteria. The environmental variance for the 2-day measurement was slightly lower than that of the 1-day measurement for all the traits studied, indicating that the addition of an extra day of data was effective in reducing the amount of unexplained variation in each trait. However, these minor reductions did not have a major impact on accuracy; hence, very high phenotypic (rp of 0.91–0.99) and genetic (rg of 0.99 for each trait) correlations were obtained between the two measurement durations. The very high genetic correlation between the two durations of measurement indicated that, at the genetic level, the 1-day duration is measuring the same trait as the 2-day measurement duration. Any enteric-methane emission-abatement strategy that seeks to reduce MPR per se, may have a detrimental impact on ruminant productivity through a correlated reduction in feed intake; hence, MY and the RMP traits are likely to be the traits of interest for genetic improvement. Efficiency of selection for MY and the RMP traits ranged from 0.96 to 0.99, which implies that there would be less than 5% loss in efficiency by adopting a 1-day relative to a 2-day methane-measurement duration. While the throughput of the respiration-chamber facility can be increased by adopting a 1-day measurement duration, additional resources, such as holding pens, would be required to take advantage of the extra day.

Additional keywords: greenhouse gas, residual methane, ruminants.


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