Methane production and methanogen levels in steers that differ in residual gain

H. C. Freetly, A. K. Lindholm-Perry, K. E. Hales, T. M. Brown-Brandl, M. Kim, P. R. Myer, J. E. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Methane (CH4) gas released by cattle is a product of fermentation in the digestive tract. The 2 primary sites of CH4 production in ruminants are the reticulum-rumen complex and the cecum. Methane release from cattle represents a 2% to 12% loss of the energy intake. Reducing the proportion of feed energylost as CH4 has the potential of improving feed efficiency as well as decreasing the contribution of cattle to greenhouse gas production. Feed intake and growth were measured on 132 fall-born steers for 70 d. Seven steers with extreme positive residual gain (RG) and 7 steers with extreme negative RG whose DMI was within 0.32 SD of the mean intake were selected for subsequent measurements. Enteric CH4 production was measured via indirect calorimetry. Rumen, cecum, and rectal contents were obtained from steers at slaughter for measurement of in vitro CH4 production and methanogen 16S rRNA levels. Enteric CH4 production did not differ (P = 0.11) between the positive RG (112 ± 13 L/d) and the negative RG (74 ± 13 L/d) steers. In vitro rumen methane production did not differ between positive RG (64.26 × 10−5 ± 10.85 × 10−5 mmol∙g−1 DM∙min−1) and negative RG (61.49 × 10−5 ± 10.85 × 10−5 mmol∙g−1 DM∙min−1; P = 0.86). In vitro cecum methane production did not differ between positive RG (4.24 × 10−5 ± 1.90 × 10−5 mmol∙g−1 DM∙min−1) and negative RG (4.35 × 10−5 ± 1.90 × 10−5 mmol∙g−1 DM∙min−1; P = 0.97). Methanogen 16S rRNA as a percentage of the total bacteria16S rRNA did not differ between RG groups (P = 0.18). The methanogen 16S rRNA as a percentage of rumen fluid total bacteria 16S rRNA (5.3% ± 3.1%) did not differ from the methanogen 16S rRNA as a percentage of cecum content total bacteria 16S rRNA (11.8% ± 3.1%; P = 0.14). The methanogen 16S rRNA as a percentage of the rectum content total bacteria 16S rRNA (0.7% ± 3.1%) was not different from the rumen content (P = 0.29) but was less than the cecum content (P = 0.01). Methanomicrobiales 16S rRNA as a percentage of total methanogen 16S rRNA did not differ across sample sites (P = 0.81); however, steers with positive RG (10.5% ± 1.6%) were more numerous than steers with negative RG (5.1% ± 1.6%; P = 0.02). Cattle that differ in RG at the same DMI do not differ in characteristics associated with CH4 production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2375-2381
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume93
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2015

Keywords

  • Cattle
  • Methane
  • Methanogens

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