Enteric methane emission and digestion in dairy cows fed wheat or molasses

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The aim of this experiment was to measure enteric methane (CH4) emission and its relation with rumen digestion in dairy cows fed diets rich in 1 of the 2 carbohydrate sources, starch or sugar. The rations were based on late first-cut grass–clover silage supplemented with wheat (Wh), NaOH-treated wheat (Wh+NaOH), sugar beet molasses (Mo), or sugar beet molasses with addition of sodium bicarbonate (Mo+Bic). Wheat and molasses made up 35% of dry matter in the 2 diets with molasses and wheat, respectively. Four cows fitted with ruminal, duodenal, and ileal canulae were used in a 4 × 4 Latin square design. Nutrient digestibility was measured using chromium oxide and titanium oxide as flow markers, and emissions of CH4 and hydrogen were measured via open-circuit indirect calorimetry on 4 consecutive days. Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED of SAS (version 9.4; SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC) with treatment and period as fixed effects and cow as random effect. Furthermore, orthogonal contrasts were calculated. The cows produced 32.5, 33.6, 36.2, and 35.1 L of CH4/kg of dry matter intake (DMI) on diets Wh, Wh+NaOH, Mo, and Mo+Bic, respectively. The emission of CH4 per day, per kilogram of DMI, and per kilogram of energy-corrected milk as well as daily hydrogen emission were higher on the Mo diet compared with the Wh diet. With the present inclusion of wheat and molasses in the diet, no effects of NaOH treatment of wheat or of sodium bicarbonate supplementation to the Mo diet could be demonstrated on CH4 emission expressed per kilogram of DMI or per kilogram of energy-corrected milk. The duodenal flow of starch was higher when wheat was treated with NaOH. Under the conditions in the present experiment, ruminal NDF digestibility was not affected by carbohydrate source, NaOH treatment of wheat, or bicarbonate supplementation. Total volatile fatty acid concentration in the rumen and the proportions of acetate and propionate were not affected by carbohydrate source, NaOH treatment of wheat, or bicarbonate supplementation. Likewise, we could not show any influence of diet on microbial protein synthesis or efficiency of microbial protein synthesis expressed as grams of microbial protein synthesis per kilogram of true rumen-digested organic matter. We concluded that CH4 emission was increased when wheat was replaced by molasses, whereas no effect of manipulating rumen fermentation by NaOH treatment of wheat or addition of bicarbonate to molasses could be found with a level of approximately 25% of dry matter from starch and sugar, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)1448-1462
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • enteric methane, buffer, bicarbonate, mitigation strategy

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