A mechanistic model of whole-tract digestion and methanogenesis in the lactating dairy cow: Model development, evaluation and application

J.A.N. Mills, J. Dijkstra, A. Bannink, S.B. Cammell, E. Kebreab, J. France

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154 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dietary intervention to reduce methane emissions from lactating dairy cattle is both environmentally and nutritionally desirable due to the importance of methane as a causative agent in global warming and as a significant loss of feed energy. Reliable prediction systems for methane production over a range of dietary inputs could be used to develop novel dietary regimes for the limitation of feed energy loss to methane. This investigation builds on previous attempts at modeling methanogenesis and involves the development of a dynamic mechanistic model of whole-rumen function. The model incorporates modifications to certain ruminal fermentation parameters and the addition of a postruminal digestive element. Regression analysis showed good agreement between observed and predicted results for experimental data taken from the literature (r2 = 0.76, root mean square prediction error = 15.4Ž Evaluation of model predictions for experimental observations from five calorimetry studies (67 observations) with lactating dairy cows at the Centre for Dairy Research, in Reading, U.K., shows an under-prediction (2.1 MJ/d) of methane production (r2 = 0.46, root mean square prediction error = 12.4Ž Application of the model to develop diets for minimizing methanogenesis indicated a need to limit the ratio of lipogenic to glucogenic VFA in the rumen and hindgut. This may be achieved by replacing soluble sugars in the concentrate with starch or substituting corn silage for grass silage. On a herd basis, the model predicted that increasing dietary energy intake per cow can minimize the annual loss of feed energy through methane production. The mechanistic model is a valuable tool for predicting methane emissions from dairy cows.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1584-1597
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume79
Issue number79
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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