Sustainable food production in Swedish dairy farming

Last changed: 12 January 2024
Cow on pasture, with its head inside a feeding machine. Photo.

This project will investigate the most economical and sustainable way of achieving less methane (CH4) from Swedish dairy production by composing low-emitting diets based on resources that cannot be directly utilized as food for humans.

There is a consumer request and a societal need to decrease CH4 emission from ruminants. Ruminant production systems have the ability to contribute to the increased demand of food from a growing global population and becoming more environmental friendly by the correct use of human-inedible resources in the production.

Recently, the use of the tropical red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis has been attracting attention since it reduces CH4 in dairy cows by up to 80%. This alternative is not sustainable when it comes to cultivation and drying of this product that requires the use of fossil fuels, and also due to the potential health issues and increased costs of diets to the farmers.

Dairy cows can sustain a large part of their milk production on high-quality grass/maize silage-based diets supplemented with feed-grade grain and agro industrial by-products. Until now high-fat oats have primarily been used as a lower starch alternative in feeding of sport horses and less in feeding of ruminants. Previous findings have shown that fat has the greatest potential in decreasing CH4 production in dairy cows without any adverse effect on milk production. Using high fat content oats instead of barley or cold pressed rapeseed cake (by-product of rapeseed oil production) in dairy cow diets offers a feasible method to implement best practice low-emitting diets, a practical strategy to lower CH4 emissions on-farm without compromising animal performance or health.

This project will investigate the optimal use of new high fat content oat varieties compared to cold pressed rapeseed cake in the diet of dairy cows with grass silage or grass and maize silage to reduce CH4 emissions in dairy cows. In vitro and in vivo studies will be conducted to understand best combination of diets with regard to mitigating both enteric (from feed digestion) and manure CH4 emissions, and improving or maintaining animal performance. The economic performance and sustainability value will be also calculated and taken into account.


This project is funded by the foundation Stiftelsen Seydlitz MP bolagen.