Oats for more sustainable milk production and a better environment

Last changed: 07 May 2021
A red and white cow who looks into the camera. Photo.

Variation in enteric methane (CH4) emissions in lactating dairy cows has been attributed to both animal and dietary factors. Several strategies for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) including CH4 based on dietary manipulation or feed additives have been suggested. However, implementation in practice has been limited due to high costs or adverse effects on performance. This project will investigate if a simple thing like inclusion of oats in the diet might work.

Background

A preliminary study in vitro has demonstrated that replacement of barley with oats in a typical dairy cow diet can lower CH4 production by approximately 20%. This project will extend these findings to evaluate the effects of substituting oats for barley as a practical and sustainable means to decrease CH4 emissions from milk production.

Project description

To achieve these objectives, we will perform in vitro studies with rumen fluid to evaluate the effects of grain type; specifically a comparison of barley vs. oats and also different oats varieties on CH4 production. These studies will be underpinned by two feeding experiments that will generate data and relevant samples to understand the biological basis of grain type on CH4 emissions and animal performance. A detailed analysis of milk fatty acid composition will be made to understand the impact on product quality and implications for human health and to evaluate the potential of these measurements as a proxy for CH4 emissions.

Facts:

The project is funded by Swedish research council Formas.

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