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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Effect of a Low-Methane Diet on Performance and Microbiome in Lactating Dairy Cows Accounting for Individual Pre-Trial Methane Emissions

Chagas, Juana C.; Ramin, Mohammad; Exposito, Ruth Gomez; Smidt, Hauke; Krizsan, Sophie J.


Simple Summary Low methane-emitting dietary ingredients have been identified in extensive research conducted during the past decade. This study investigated the effects of replacing grass silage with maize silage, with or without rapeseed oil supplementation, on the methane emissions and performance of dairy cows. Pre-trial measurements of methane-emissions were used in the evaluation. Partial replacement of grass silage with maize silage did not affect methane emissions but reduced dairy cow performance. Adding rapeseed oil to the diet substantially reduced methane emissions due to modified rumen microbiota, resulting in impaired nutrient intake, digestibility, and yield of energy-corrected milk. Correcting for individual cow characteristics of methane emissions did not affect the magnitude of suppression of methane emissions by dietary treatments. This study examined the effects of partly replacing grass silage (GS) with maize silage (MS), with or without rapeseed oil (RSO) supplementation, on methane (CH4) emissions, production performance, and rumen microbiome in the diets of lactating dairy cows. The effect of individual pre-trial CH4-emitting characteristics on dietary emissions mitigation was also examined. Twenty Nordic Red cows at 71 +/- 37.2 (mean +/- SD) days in milk were assigned to a replicated 4 x 4 Latin square design with four dietary treatments (GS, GS supplemented with RSO, GS plus MS, GS plus MS supplemented with RSO) applied in a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement. Partial replacement of GS with MS decreased the intake of dry matter (DM) and nutrients, milk production, yield of milk components, and general nutrient digestibility. Supplementation with RSO decreased the intake of DM and nutrients, energy-corrected milk yield, composition and yield of milk fat and protein, and general digestibility of nutrients, except for crude protein. Individual cow pre-trial measurements of CH4-emitting characteristics had a significant influence on gas emissions but did not alter the magnitude of CH4 emissions. Dietary RSO decreased daily CH4, yield, and intensity. It also increased the relative abundance of rumen Methanosphaera and Succinivibrionaceae and decreased that of Bifidobacteriaceae. There were no effects of dietary MS on CH4 emissions in this study, but supplementation with 41 g RSO/kg of DM reduced daily CH4 emissions from lactating dairy cows by 22.5%.


dairy cow; enteric methane; feed efficiency; grass silage; maize silage; rapeseed oil; rumen microbiome

Published in

2021, volume: 11, number: 9, article number: 2597
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden
Exposito, Ruth Gomez
Wageningen University and Research
Smidt, Hauke
Wageningen University and Research

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

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