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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Effects of replacing wheat starch with glycerol on methane emissions, milk production, and feed efficiency in dairy cows fed grass silage-based diets

Karlsson, Johanna; Ramin, Mohammad; Kass, Marko; Lindberg, Mikaela; Holtenius, Kjell


To lower the effect of climate change from cattle production, we should aim at decreasing their enteric methane emissions per kilogram of milk or meat. Glycerol may be absorbed through the rumen epithelium and would consequently be less available to microbes in the rumen. Glycerol could thus supply dairy cows with energy for milk production without contributing much to methane production. This study evaluated the effect of replacing wheat starch with glycerol on milk production, feed intake, and methane emissions. Twenty-two Swedish Red cows in mid lactation were used in a switch-back, change-over experiment with 3 periods of 21 d. The 2 dietary treatments consisted of a total mixed ration based on (g/kg of dry matter) grass silage (605), rapeseed meal (120), and barley (70) and either wheat starch or refined glycerol (200) fed ad libitum. The glycerol diet resulted in higher dry matter intake (21.6 vs. 20.1 kg/d) and methane emissions (482 vs. 423 g/d) compared with the diet containing wheat starch, whereas no difference was found in energy-corrected milk yield (28.4 vs. 29.7 kg/d). These results indicate that when glycerol is mixed with the feed, it is available to rumen microbes to a larger extent than initially assumed. Compared with wheat starch, adding refined glycerol (200 g/kg of dry matter) to the feed of dairy cows does not seem to have the potential to decrease enteric methane emissions.


starch; glycerin; milk composition; greenhouse gas

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2019, Volume: 102, number: 9, pages: 7927-7935