Methane (CH4) production (g CH4/d) and yields (g CH4/kg dry matter intake (DMI)) from groups of 11 non-lactating dairy cattle, sheep and red deer were compared in January and June of 2007. During each period, methane emissions measured using the SF6 tracer technique, were measured over four days following 10 days of acclimatisation. All animals were individually housed in metabolism cages and fed ensiled lucerne chaff at a rate of 1.2 times estimated energy requirements according to Australian feeding standards. Total daily methane production from cattle (140.4 g CH4/day) was greater than deer (31.5 g CH4/day) which was greater than sheep (18.3 g CH4/day) (P<0.001) and methane yield from cattle (20.6 g CH4/kg DMI) was greater than sheep (18.4 g CH4/kg DMI) which was greater than deer (16.5 g CH4/kg DMI) (P<0.001). A significant interaction of species by season was driven by the higher methane production and yield of cattle in winter compared with summer (P<0.001). The findings of this experiment show that methane emissions can differ between ruminant species at the same time on the same diet. Reasons for these differences are yet to be elucidated.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 68, Brisbane, Australia, 59-62, 2008
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