Feeding nitrate and docosahexaenoic acid affects enteric methane production and milk fatty acid composition in lactating dairy cows

G. Klop*, B. Hatew, A. Bannink, Jan Dijkstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An experiment was conducted to study potential interaction between the effects of feeding nitrate and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; C22:6 n-3) on enteric CH4 production and performance of lactating dairy cows. Twenty-eight lactating Holstein dairy cows were grouped into 7 blocks of 4 cows. Within blocks, cows were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments: control (CON; urea as alternative nonprotein N source to nitrate), NO3 [21 g of nitrate/kg of dry matter (DM)], DHA (3 g of DHA/kg of DM and urea as alternative nonprotein N source to nitrate), or NO3 + DHA (21 g of nitrate/kg of DM and 3 g of DHA/kg of DM, respectively). Cows were fed a total mixed ration consisting of 21% grass silage, 49% corn silage, and 30% concentrates on a DM basis. Feed additives were included in the concentrates. Cows assigned to a treatment including nitrate were gradually adapted to the treatment dose of nitrate over a period of 21 d during which no DHA was fed. The experimental period lasted 17 d, and CH4 production was measured during the last 5 d in climate respiration chambers. Cows produced on average 363, 263, 369, and 298 g of CH4/d on CON, NO3, DHA, and NO3 + DHA treatments, respectively, and a tendency for a nitrate × DHA interaction effect was found where the CH4-mitigating effect of nitrate decreased when combined with DHA. This tendency was not obtained for CH4 production relative to dry matter intake (DMI) or to fat- and protein corrected milk (FPCM). The NO3 treatment decreased CH4 production irrespective of the unit in which it was expressed, whereas DHA did not affect CH4 production per kilogram of DMI, but resulted in a higher CH4 production per kilogram of fat- and protein-corrected milk (FPCM) production. The FPCM production (27.9, 24.7, 24.2, and 23.8 kg/d for CON, NO3, DHA, and NO3 + DHA, respectively) was lower for DHA-fed cows because of decreased milk fat concentration. The proportion of saturated fatty acids in milk fat was decreased by DHA, and the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids was increased by both nitrate and DHA. Milk protein concentration was lower for nitrate-fed cows. In conclusion, nitrate but not DHA decreased enteric CH4 production and no interaction effects were found on CH4 production per kilogram of DMI or per kilogram of FPCM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1172
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume99
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Methane
  • Milk fatty acid
  • Nitrate

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