Enteric methane production in lactating dairy cows with continuous feeding of essential oils or rotational feeding of essential oils and lauric acid

Jan 3, 2017

G. Klop, J. Dijkstra, K. Dieho, W. H. Hendriks, and A. Bannink


Rumen microbes can adapt to feed additives, which may make the decrease in enteric CH4 production upon feeding an additive a transient response only. This study investigated alternate feeding of 2 CH4 mitigating feed additives with a different mode of action on persistency of lowering CH4 production compared with feeding a single additive over a period of 10 wk. Four pairs of cows were selected, and within pairs, cows were randomly assigned to either the control (AR-AR) or the alternating (AR-LA) concentrate treatment. The AR concentrate contained a blend of essential oils (Agolin Ruminant, Agolin SA, Bière, Switzerland; 0.17 g/kg of dry matter) and the LA concentrate contained lauric acid (C12:0; 65 g/kg of dry matter). A basal concentrate without Agolin Ruminant and lauric acid was fed during the pretreatment period (2 wk). Thereafter, the cows assigned to the AR-AR treatment received the AR concentrate during all 10 treatment weeks (5 periods of 2 wk each), whereas cows assigned to the AR-LA treatment received AR and LA concentrates rotated on a weekly basis. Methane emission was measured in climate respiration chambers during periods 1, 3, and 5. From period 3 onward, dry matter intake and milk protein concentration were reduced with the AR-LA treatment. Milk fat concentration was not affected, but the proportion of C12:0 in milk fat increased upon feeding C12:0. Molar proportions of acetate and propionate in rumen fluid were lower and higher, respectively, with the AR-LA than with the AR-AR treatment. Methane yield (g/kg of dry matter intake) and intensity (g/kg of fat- and protein-corrected milk yield) were not affected by treatment. Methane yield and intensity were significantly lower (12 and 11%, respectively) in period 1 compared with the pretreatment period, but no significant difference relative to pretreatment period was observed in period 3 (numerically 9 and 7% lower, respectively) and in period 5 (numerically 8 and 4% lower, respectively). Results indicate a transient decrease in CH4 yield and intensity in time, but no improvement in extent or persistency of the decline in CH4 due to rotational feeding of essential oils and C12:0 in lactating dairy cows.
Key words: methane, lauric acid, essential oils, dairy cow.

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