Comparison of methods to measure methane for use in genetic evaluation of dairy cattle

Philip C. Garnsworthy*, Gareth F. Difford, Matthew J. Bell, Ali R. Bayat, Pekka Huhtanen, Björn Kuhla, Jan Lassen, Nico Peiren, Marcin Pszczola, Diana Sorg, Marleen H.P.W. Visker, Tianhai Yan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Partners in Expert Working Group WG2 of the COST Action METHAGENE have used several methods for measuring methane output by individual dairy cattle under various environmental conditions. Methods included respiration chambers, the sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) tracer technique, breath sampling during milking or feeding, the GreenFeed system, and the laser methane detector. The aim of the current study was to review and compare the suitability of methods for large-scale measurements of methane output by individual animals, which may be combined with other databases for genetic evaluations. Accuracy, precision and correlation between methods were assessed. Accuracy and precision are important, but data from different sources can be weighted or adjusted when combined if they are suitably correlated with the ‘true’ value. All methods showed high correlations with respiration chambers. Comparisons among alternative methods generally had lower correlations than comparisons with respiration chambers, despite higher numbers of animals and in most cases simultaneous repeated measures per cow per method. Lower correlations could be due to increased variability and imprecision of alternative methods, or maybe different aspects of methane emission are captured using different methods. Results confirm that there is sufficient correlation between methods for measurements from all methods to be combined for international genetic studies and provide a much-needed framework for comparing genetic correlations between methods should these become available.

Original languageEnglish
Article number837
JournalAnimals
Volume9
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Dairy cows
  • Environment
  • Genetic evaluation
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Methane

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    Garnsworthy, P. C., Difford, G. F., Bell, M. J., Bayat, A. R., Huhtanen, P., Kuhla, B., Lassen, J., Peiren, N., Pszczola, M., Sorg, D., Visker, M. H. P. W., & Yan, T. (2019). Comparison of methods to measure methane for use in genetic evaluation of dairy cattle. Animals, 9(10), [837]. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100837