Effectiveness of nitrate addition and increased oil content as methane mitigation strategies for beef cattle fed two contrasting basal diets
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The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of (1) the addition of nitrate and (2) an increase in dietary oil on methane (CH4) and hydrogen (H2) emissions from 2 breeds (cross-bred Charolais and purebred Luing) of finishing beef cattle receiving 2 contrasting basal diets consisting (grams per kilogram DM) of 500:500 (Mixed) and 80:920 (Concentrate) forage to concentrate ratios. Within each basal diet there were 3 treatments: (i) control treatments (mixed-CTL and concentrate-CTL) contained rapeseed meal as the protein source, which was replaced with either (ii) calcium nitrate (mixed-NIT and concentrate-NIT) supplying 21.5 g nitrate/kg DM, or (iii) rapeseed cake (mixed-RSC and concentrate- RSC) to increase dietary oil from 27 (CTL) to 53 g/kg DM (RSC). Following adaption to diets, CH4 and H2 emissions were measured on 1 occasion from each of the 76 steers over a 13-wk period. Dry matter intakes tended (P = 0.051) to be greater for the concentrate diet than the mixed diet; however, when expressed as grams DMI per kilogram BW, there was no difference between diets (P = 0.41). Dry matter intakes for NIT or RSC did not differ from CTL. Steers fed a concentrate diet produced less CH4 and H2 than those fed a mixed diet (P < 0.001). Molar proportions of acetate (P < 0.001) and butyrate (P < 0.01) were lower and propionate (P < 0.001) and valerate (P < 0.05) higher in the rumen fluid from steers fed the concentrate diet. For the mixed diet, CH4 yield (grams per kilogram DMI) was decreased by 17% when nitrate was added (P < 0.01), while H2 yield increased by 160% (P < 0.001). The addition of RSC to the mixed diet decreased CH4 yield by 7.5% (P = 0.18). However, for the concentrate diet neither addition of nitrate (P = 0.65) nor increasing dietary oil content (P = 0.46) decreased CH4 yield compared to concentrate-CTL. Molar proportions of acetate were higher (P < 0.001) and those of propionate lower (P < 0.01) in rumen fluid from NIT treatments compared to respective CTL treatments. Overall, reductions in CH4 emissions from adding nitrate or increasing the oil content of the mixed diet were similar to those expected from previous reports. However, the lack of an effect of these mitigation strategies when used with high concentrate diets has not been previously reported. This study shows that the effect of CH4 mitigation strategies is basal diet-dependent.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Journal of Animal Science