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Enteric methane production from beef cattle that vary in feed efficiency

Freetly, H. C., Brown-Brandl, T. M.
Journal of animal science 2013 v.91 no.10 pp. 4826
alfalfa hay, beef cattle, calorimeters, cattle feeding, cattle production, corn, corn silage, distillers grains, feed conversion, feed intake, feed supplements, heifers, methane, methane production, monensin, regression analysis, rumen fermentation, sodium chloride, steers, variance, vitamin A
We hypothesized that CH4 production will decrease with increased feed efficiency. Two experiments were conducted to determine CH4 production of cattle that differed in feed efficiency. Cattle in both studies were selected from larger contemporary groups. Animals furthest from the confidence ellipse that resulted from regressing BW gain on DMI were selected. In the first experiment, 113 crossbred steers were evaluated for feed efficiency for 64 d. Steers were 355 ± 1 d of age and weighed 456 ± 10 kg when they began the study. Steers were fed a ration that consisted of (DM basis) 82.8% corn, 12.8% corn silage, and 4.5% supplement [contains 0.065% monensin, 32% CP (28% NPN), 7.5% Ca, 0.8% P, 4.8% NaCl, 1.8% K, and 55,116 IU/kg vitamin A]. Thirty-seven steers were selected to measure CH4 production. In the second experiment, 197 heifers were evaluated for feed efficiency for 64 d. Heifers were 286 ± 1 d of age and weighed 327 ± 2 kg when they began the study. Heifers were fed a ration that consisted of (DM basis) 60% corn silage, 30% alfalfa hay, and 10% wet distillers grains with solubles. Forty-seven heifers were selected to measure CH4 production. Methane production was measured with respiration calorimeters. In both experiments, cattle had ad libitum access to feed, and DMI consumed during the 24 h before CH4 production was measured. Methane production was collected for a 6-h period on untrained cattle. Consequently, methane production is not a quantitative measure of daily methane production; rather, it is an index value to rank cattle. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the relationship between either BW gain:DMI ratio or residual feed intake (RFI) on CH4 production after adjusting for the previous 24-h DMI. In the steers, BW gain:DMI ratio and previous 24-h feed intake accounted for little of the variance in CH4 production (R2 = 0.009), and neither did RFI and previous 24-h feed intake (R2 = 0.001). In the heifers, the BW gain:DMI ratio contributed 28% toward the variance estimate and previous 24-h DMI contributed 72% toward the variance estimate (R2 = 0.31). As the BW gain:DMI ratio increased, daily CH4 production increased. The regression coefficient for RFI (P = 0.45) did not differ from 0 for CH4 production. Our study does not support our original hypothesis that CH4 production decreases with increased feed efficiency and suggests that CH4 production may increase with increased feed efficiency.