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Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals

Supplementation with whole cottonseed reduces methane emissions and can profitably increase milk production of dairy cows offered a forage and cereal grain diet

C. Grainger A D , T. Clarke A , K. A. Beauchemin B , S. M. McGinn B and R. J. Eckard C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Primary Industries, Ellinbank, Vic. 3821, Australia.

B Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 4B1, Canada.

C Faculty of Land and Food Resources, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48(2) 73-76
Submitted: 30 July 2007  Accepted: 28 September 2007   Published: 2 January 2008


The experimental objective was to determine if whole cottonseed (WCS) could be used as a dietary supplement to reduce enteric methane emissions and profitably increase milk production from dairy cattle over the summer period when pasture is limited in quantity and has a low nutritive value. Fifty lactating cows, ~200 days in milk, were randomly allocated to one of two groups (control or WCS). Cows were offered lucerne hay (in the morning) and pasture silage (in the afternoon) made from a predominantly ryegrass sward in one group for 5 weeks. The hay and silage were placed on the ground in a bare paddock. Cows in each group were also individually offered cracked grain in a feed trough at 3 kg DM/ at milking times. In addition, at milking times, cows in the WCS group were individually offered 2.7 kg DM/ of untreated WCS with their grain supplement. Measurements of methane emissions (n = 12), using the SF6 tracer technique, were made in weeks 3 and 5 after the commencement of feeding treatments. Supplementation with WCS significantly reduced methane emissions by 12% (g/ and by 21% (g/ milk solids) and significantly increased yield of milk (n = 25) by 15%, milk fat by 19% and milk protein by 16%. WCS had no effect on concentration of milk fat or lactose, but resulted in a significant 3% decrease in protein concentration. WCS appears to be a promising supplement for reducing methane emissions and increasing milk production from dairy cattle when pasture is limited in quantity and has a low nutritive value.


The Department of Primary Industries-Victoria, the Victorian Greenhouse Strategy, the Australian Greenhouse Office and Dairy Australia funded this study. Helpful comments made by the reviewers are acknowledged.


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