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

Proxies to adjust methane production rate of beef cattle when the quantity of feed consumed is unknown

R. M. Herd A , J. I. Velazco B C , P. F. Arthur D E and R. S. Hegarty B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

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

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

C National Institute of Agricultural Research, Treinta y Tres 33000, Uruguay.

D NSW Department of Primary Industries, Agricultural Institute, Menangle, NSW 2568, Australia.

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

Animal Production Science 56(3) 231-237 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15477
Submitted: 24 August 2015  Accepted: 11 November 2015   Published: 9 February 2016

Abstract

The aim of the present experiment was to evaluate the utility of carbon dioxide production rate (CPR; g CO2/day) and animal weight (WT) data as proxies for feed intake to adjust methane production rate (MPR; g CH4/day) in situations where dry-matter intake (DMI) is not known. This experiment measured individual-animal DMI, MPR and CPR in the feedlot, and then again on restricted quantities of grain and roughage diets in open-circuit respiration chambers. Of the 59 cattle tested in the feedlot, 41 had MPR and CPR recorded, and 59 and 57 had test results on the restricted grain and roughage rations. Methane production relative to DMI by individual animals was calculated as CH4 yield (MY; MPR/DMI) and as residual CH4 production (RMPDMI; calculated as MPR less predicted MPR based on DMI). A second form of RMP: RMPCO2, was calculated by regressing MPR against CPR to determine whether animals were producing more or less CH4 than predicted for their CPR. Carbon dioxide production rate was positively associated with DMI in all three test phases (R2 = 0.25, 0.45 and 0.47; all P < 0.001). The associations for MY with MPR : CPR were moderate and positive, as follows: R2 = 0.49 in the feedlot test; R2 = 0.37 in the restricted-grain test; and R2 = 0.59 in the restricted-roughage test, and with RMPCO2, values of R2 were 0.57, 0.34 and 0.59 in the three test phases (all P < 0.001). The R2 for RMPDMI with MPR : CPR in all three tests were 0.50, 0.79 and 0.69, and with RMPCO2, values of R2 were 0.68, 0.79 and 0.68 (all P < 0.001). The high R2 for MY with MPR : CPR and RMPCO2 and even higher R2 for RMPDMI with MPR : CPR and RMPCO2 in all three test phases showed that CPR can be used to adjust MPR data for DMI when DMI is not recorded. In the feedlot test, where animal WT data were recorded over 70 days, MPR adjusted for WT and WT gain had R2 with MY and RMPDMI of 0.60 and 0.83, respectively (P < 0.001), offering the possibility that animal WT data determined over an extended time period could also be used as a proxy for DMI in adjustment of MPR.

Additional keywords: GEM, greenhouse gas, respiration chamber.


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