The objective of this study was to determine the effect of dietary nitrate on methane emission and rumen fermentation parameters in Nellore × Guzera (Bos indicus) beef cattle fed a sugarcane based diet. The experiment was conducted with 16 steers weighing 283 ± 49 kg (mean ± SD), 6 rumen cannulated and 10 intact steers, in a cross-over design. The animals were blocked according to BW and presence or absence of rumen cannula and randomly allocated to either the nitrate diet (22 g nitrate/kg DM) or the control diet made isonitrogenous by the addition of urea. The diets consisted of freshly chopped sugarcane and concentrate (60:40 on DM basis), fed as a mixed ration. A 16-d adaptation period was used to allow the rumen microbes to adapt to dietary nitrate. Methane emission was measured using the sulfur hexafluoride tracer technique. Dry matter intake (P = 0.09) tended to be less when nitrate was present in the diet compared with the control, 6.60 and 7.05 kg/d DMI, respectively. The daily methane production was reduced (P <0.01) by 32% when steers were fed the nitrate diet (85 g/d) compared with the urea diet (125 g/d). Methane emission per kilogram DMI was 27% less (P <0.01) on the nitrate diet (13.3 g methane/kg DMI) than on the control diet (18.2 g methane/kg DMI). Methane losses as a fraction of gross energy intake (GEI) were less (P <0.01) on the nitrate diet (4.2% of GEI) than on the control diet (5.9% of GEI). Nitrate mitigated enteric methane production by 87% of the theoretical potential. The rumen fluid ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N) concentration was significantly greater (P <0.05) for the nitrate diet. The total concentration of VFA was not affected (P = 0.61) by nitrate in the diet, while the proportion of acetic acid tended to be greater (P = 0.09), propionic acid less (P = 0.06) and acetate/propionate ratio tended to be greater (P = 0.06) for the nitrate diet. Dietary nitrate reduced enteric methane emission in beef cattle fed sugarcane based diet.
- rumen fermentation