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

Absence of persistent methane emission differences in three breeds of dairy cows

A. Münger A and M. Kreuzer B C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux Research Station ALP, CH-1725 Posieux, Switzerland.

B ETH Zurich, Institute of Animal Science, Universitaetstrasse 2, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.

C Corresponding author. Email: michael.kreuzer@inw.agrl.ethz.ch

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48(2) 77-82 https://doi.org/10.1071/EA07219
Submitted: 27 July 2007  Accepted: 11 October 2007   Published: 2 January 2008

Abstract

In the present study, data from an experiment with 10 purebred Holstein, Simmental and Jersey cows each were analysed to test the assumption that there are genetically low methane-producing animals. Methane emission of cows offered forage ad libitum and some concentrate was measured for 3 days in open-circuit respiration chambers in weeks 8, 15, 23, 33 and 41 of lactation. Individual cow data were analysed in five different ways: (i) plotting the trend of methane per unit of dry matter intake (DMI) and milk yield over time; relating measured methane production to estimates derived from equations based on either; (ii) DMI or (iii) nutrient intake; (iv) relating residual feed intake (RFI) to methane emission; and (v) analysis of variance of cow × measurement interactions. The Holstein, Simmental and Jersey cows emitted on average 25, 25 and 26 g methane/kg DMI, respectively. There was no indication of individual cows with persistently low or high methane yield per kg DMI and per kg milk. Measured methane emissions differed from estimated values without a clear pattern, and the relationship between RFI and methane emission of the cows was weak. Finally, analysis of variance failed to show distinct patterns of methane per unit of DMI and milk for individual animals. The apparent lack of persistence of individual animal differences in methane yields suggests that genetic determination of this trait is of minor importance in dairy cows.

Additional keywords: cattle, genetic variation, greenhouse gas.


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