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Crushed sunflower, flax, or canola seeds in lactating dairy cow diets: Effects on methane production, rumen fermentation, and milk production

Beauchemin, K.A., McGinn, S.M., Benchaar, C., Holtshausen, L. (2009). Crushed sunflower, flax, or canola seeds in lactating dairy cow diets: Effects on methane production, rumen fermentation, and milk production, 92(5), 2118-2127. http://dx.doi.org/10.3168/jds.2008-1903

Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate the potential of reducing enteric methane production from dairy cows by incorporating into the diet various sources of long-chain FA varying in their degree of saturation and ruminal availability. The experiment was conducted as a crossover design with 16 lactating dairy cows maintained in 2 groups and fed 4 dietary treatments in four 28-d periods. Eight ruminally cannulated primiparous cows (96 ± 18 d in milk) were assigned to group 1 and 8 multiparous cows (130 ± 31 d in milk) were assigned to group 2. The dietary treatments were: 1) a commercial source of calcium salts of long-chain fatty acids (CTL), 2) crushed sunflower seeds (SS), 3) crushed flaxseed (FS), and 4) crushed canola seed (CS). The oilseeds added 3.1 to 4.2% fat to the diet (DM basis). All 3 oilseed treatments decreased methane production (g/d) by an average of 13%. When corrected for differences in dry matter intake (DMI), compared with CTL, methane production (g/kg of DM intake) was decreased by feeding FS (-18%) or CS (-16%) and was only numerically decreased (-10%) by feeding SS. However, compared with the CTL, feeding SS or FS lowered digestible DMI by 16 and 9%, respectively, because of lowered digestibility. Thus, only CS lowered methane per unit of digestible DM intake. Feeding SS and CS decreased rumen protozoal counts, but there were no treatment effects on mean ruminal pH or total volatile fatty acid concentration. Milk efficiency (3.5% fat corrected milk/DMI), milk yield, and component yield and concentrations were not affected by oilseed treatments. The study shows that adding sources of long-chain fatty acids to the diet in the form of processed oilseeds can be an effective means of reducing methane emissions. However, for some oilseeds such as SS or FS, the reduction in methane can be at the expense of diet digestibility. The use of crushed CS offers a means of mitigating methane without negatively affecting diet digestibility, and hence, milk production. © American Dairy Science Association, 2009.

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