A time-series of methane and carbon dioxide production from dairy cows during a period of dietary transition

Lee, Mark A.; Todd, Allison; Sutton, Mark A.; Chagunda, Mizeck G.G.; Roberts, David J.; Rees, Robert M.. 2017 A time-series of methane and carbon dioxide production from dairy cows during a period of dietary transition. Cogent Environmental Science, 3, 1385693. 14, pp.

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Emissions from dairy farms are contributing to the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases which are linked to recent climate change. Altering diets has been proposed as a greenhouse gas mitigation strategy in dairy systems. The magnitude of mitigation and the time taken for cows to adapt to new diets has not been comprehensively quantified. Methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by dairy cows was measured for six weeks using the sulphur hexafluoride tracer technique following a change in diet; from barley straw and protein supplements to grazed grass. CH4 and CO2 production increased linearly as the animals adapted to their new diets, however, production did not reach an asymptote six weeks into the grazing period. This suggested that metabolic activity and greenhouse gas emissions may not have been at their maximum. There was substantial variation between individuals with high emitting cows producing four times more CH4 than low producing cows. Cows which produced greater amounts of CH4 consistently also produced greater CO2. We demonstrate that feeding regime plays an important role in determining greenhouse gas emissions and we highlight that transition periods in greenhouse gas models and future experiments must be sufficiently large to allow for adaptation.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Dise
ISSN: 2331-1843
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: climate change, dairy, dry period, enteric methane, greenhouse gases, transition
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 27 Oct 2017 11:37 +0 (UTC)

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