Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Comparison of Molly and Karoline models to predict methane production in growing and dairy cattle

Kass, M.; Ramin, M.; Hanigan, M. D.; Huhtanen, P.


Numerous empirical and mechanistic models predicting methane (CH4) production are available. The aim of this work was to evaluate the Molly cow model and the Nordic cow model Karoline in predicting CH4 production in cattle using a data set consisting of 267 treatment means from 55 respiration chamber studies. The dietary and animal characteristics used for the model evaluation represent the range of diets fed to dairy and growing cattle. Feedlot diets and diets containing additives mitigating CH4 production were not included in the data set. The relationships between observed and predicted CH4 (pCH(4)) were assessed by regression analysis using fixed and mixed model analysis. Residual analysis was conducted to evaluate which dietary factors were related to prediction errors. The fixed model analysis showed that the Molly predictions were related to the observed data (+/- standard error) as CH4 (g/d) = 0.94 (+/- 0.022) x pCH(4) (g/d) + 31 (+/- 6.9) [root mean squared prediction error (RMSPE) = 45.0 g/d (14.9% of observed mean), concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) = 0.925]. The corresponding equation for the Karoline model was CH4 (g/d) = CH4 (g/d) = 0.98 (+/- 0.019) x pCH(4) (g/d) + 7.0 (+/- 6.0) [RMSPE = 35.0 g/d (11.6%), CCC = 0.953]. Proportions of mean squared prediction error attributable to mean and linear bias and random error were 10.6, 2.2, and 87.2% for the Molly model, and 1.3, 0.3, and 98.6% for the Karoline model, respectively. Mean and linear bias were significant for the Molly model but not for the Karoline model. With the mixed model regression analysis RMSPE adjusted for random study effects were 10.9 and 7.9% for the Molly model and the Karoline model, respectively. The residuals of CH4 predictions were more strongly related to factors associated with CH4 production (feeding level, digestibility, fat concentrations) with the Molly model compared with the Karoline model. Especially large mean (underprediction) and linear bias (overprediction of low digestibility diets relative to high digestibility diets) contributed to the prediction error of CH4 yield with the Molly model. It was concluded that both models could be used for prediction of CH4 production in cattle, but Karoline was more accurate and precise based on smaller RMSPE, mean bias, and slope bias, and greater CCC. The importance of accurate input data of key variables affecting diet digestibility is emphasized.


dynamic model; methane production; prediction equation; cattle

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2022, volume: 105, number: 4, pages: 3049-3063

Authors' information

Kass, Marko
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden
Kass, M. (Kass, M.)
Estonian University of Life Sciences
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden
Hanigan, M. D.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden
Huhtanen, P. (Huhtanen, Pekka)
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)