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Methane emission, nutrient digestibility, and rumen microbiota in Holstein heifers fed 14 different grass or clover silages as the sole feed

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This experiment investigated the variation in enteric methane production and associated gas exchange parameters, nutrient digestibility, rumen fermentation, and rumen microbiome when a range of silages based on different forage types (grass or clover), and different species within the 2 types, were fed as the sole feed to heifers. Three grass species (perennial ryegrass, festulolium, and tall fescue) and 2 clover species (red clover and white clover) were included. Perennial ryegrass was harvested at 2 maturity stages in the primary growth, white clover was harvested once in the primary growth, and 4 cuts of festulolium and tall fescue and 3 cuts of red clover were harvested during the growing season, giving 14 different silage batches in total. Sixteen Holstein heifers 16 to 21 mo old and 2 to 5 mo in pregnancy were fed the silages ad libitum as the sole feed in an incomplete crossover design. Each silage was fed to 4 heifers, except for the 2 perennial ryegrass silages, which were fed to 8 heifers; in total 64 observations. The CH4 production was measured for 3 d in respiration chambers. Heifers fed clover silages had higher dry matter intake (DMI) compared with heifers fed grass silages, and heifers fed tall fescue silages had the numerically the lowest DMI. Compared with grass silages, feeding clover silages led to higher crude protein digestibility but lower neutral detergent fiber (NDF) digestibility. Rumen pH was higher in heifers fed clover silages compared with those fed grass silages. Based on composition analysis, the rumen microbiota of the heifers clustered clearly according to forage type and species. More specifically, 7 of the 34 dominating rumen bacterial genus-level groups showed higher relative abundances for the clover silages, whereas 7 genus-level groups showed higher abundances for the grass silages. Methane yield was higher for heifers fed grass silages than for those fed clover silages when methane production was related to dry matter and digestible organic matter intake, whereas the opposite was seen when related to NDF digestion. The gross energy lost as methane (CH4 conversion factor, %) reduced from 7.5% to 6.7%, equivalent to an 11% reduction. The present study gives the outlines for choosing the optimal forage type and forage species with respect to nutrient digestibility and enteric methane emission in ruminants.

TidsskriftJournal of Dairy Science
Sider (fra-til)4072-4091
Antal sider20
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2023

Bibliografisk note

The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. and Fass Inc. on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association®. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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