Publications

Are dietary strategies to mitigate enteric methane emission equally effective across dairy cattle, beef cattle, and sheep?

Gastelen, Sanne van; Dijkstra, Jan; Bannink, André

Summary

The digestive physiology of ruminants is sufficiently different (e.g., with respect to mean retention time of digesta, digestibility of the feed offered, digestion, and fermentation characteristics)that caution is needed before extrapolating results from one type of ruminant to another. The objectives of the present study were (1)to provide an overview of some essential differences in rumen physiology between dairy cattle, beef cattle, and sheep that are related to methane (CH 4 )emission; and (2)to evaluate whether dietary strategies to mitigate CH 4 emission with various modes of action are equally effective in dairy cattle, beef cattle, and sheep. A literature search was performed using Web of Science and Scopus, and 94 studies were selected from the literature. Per study, the effect size of the dietary strategies was expressed as a proportion (%)of the control level of CH 4 emission, as this enabled a comparison across ruminant types. Evaluation of the literature indicated that the effectiveness of forage-related CH 4 mitigation strategies, including feeding more highly digestible grass (herbage or silage)or replacing different forage types with corn silage, differs across ruminant types. These strategies are most effective for dairy cattle, are effective for beef cattle to a certain extent, but seem to have minor or no effects in sheep. In general, the effectiveness of other dietary mitigation strategies, including increased concentrate feeding and feed additives (e.g., nitrate), appeared to be similar for dairy cattle, beef cattle, and sheep. We concluded that if the mode of action of a dietary CH 4 mitigation strategy is related to ruminant-specific factors, such as feed intake or rumen physiology, the effectiveness of the strategy differs across ruminant types, whereas if the mode of action is associated with methanogenesis-related fermentation pathways, the strategy is effective across ruminant types. Hence, caution is needed when translating effectiveness of dietary CH 4 mitigation strategies across different ruminant types or production systems.