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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition, Growth and Physiology » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328523

Title: Are methane production and cattle performance related?

item Freetly, Harvey

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/2/2016
Publication Date: 5/9/2016
Citation: Freetly, H.C. 2016. Are methane production and cattle performance related? Proceedings of Beef Methane Conference, May 11-12, 2016, Lincoln, Nebraska. p. 34-41.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Methane is a product of fermentation of feed in ruminant animals. Approximately 2 -12% of the gross energy consumed by cattle is released through enteric methane production. There are three primary components that contribute to the enteric methane footprint of an animal. Those components are dry matter intake, extent of feed digestion, and days from birth to market. For the most part, the relationship between methane production and cattle performance is the same as the relationship between feed intake and cattle performance. Overall as more feed is consumed, the methane produced per day increases. Steers that grow faster often eat more feed each day resulting in a greater methane production per day. However if steers are marketed at a given weight, the greater daily methane production can be offset by the fewer number of days that steer needs to reach weight. This reduction is associated with the amount of feed that is being used for maintenance verses the amount of feed being used to support weight gain. The more days that it takes for an animal to reach the target weight, the more feed that is required to maintain the animal. Selecting for feed efficiency is not necessarily correlated with selection for methane production, and the conversely selection for methane production is not necessarily associated with feed efficiency. The extent that feed is digested will determine the nutrients per unit of feed. A more complete fermentation would be associated with an increased feed efficiency and an increased methane production. Selection of cattle that perform equally on less feed would result in cattle with increased feed efficiency with lower methane productions.