Comparison of methane production, intensity, and yield throughout lactation in Holstein cows - Livestock Phenotyping for Sustainable Agro-ecological Systems Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Dairy Science Year : 2023

Comparison of methane production, intensity, and yield throughout lactation in Holstein cows


Genetic selection to reduce methane (CH 4) emissions from dairy cows is an attractive means of reducing the impact of agricultural production on climate change. In this study, we investigated the feasibility of such an approach by characterizing the interactions between CH 4 and several traits of interest in dairy cows. We measured CH 4 , dry matter intake (DMI), fat-and proteincorrected milk (FPCM), body weight (BW), and body condition score (BCS) from 107 first-and second-parity Holstein cows from December 2019 to November 2021. Methane emissions were measured using a GreenFeed device and expressed in terms of production (MeP, in g/d), yield (MeY, in g/kg DMI), and intensity (MeI, in g/kg FPCM). Because of the limited number of cows, only animal parameters were estimated. Both MeP and MeI were moderately repeatable (>0.45), whereas MeY presented low repeatability, especially in early lactation. Mid lactation was the most stable and representative period of CH 4 emissions throughout lactation, with animal correlations above 0.9. The average animal correlations of MeP with DMI, FPCM, and BW were 0.62, 0.48, and 0.36, respectively. The MeI was negatively correlated with FCPM (<−0.5) and DMI (>−0.25), and positively correlated with BW and BCS. The MeY presented stable and weakly positive correlations with the 4 other traits throughout lactation, with the exception of slightly negative animal correlations with FPCM and DMI after the 35th week. The MeP, MeI, and MeY were positively correlated at all lactation stages and, assuming animal and genetic correlations do not strongly differ, selection on one trait should lead to improvements in all. Overall, selection for MeI is probably not optimal as its change would result more from CH 4 dilution in increased milk yield than from real decrease in methane emission. Instead, MeY is related to rumen function and is only weakly associated with DMI, FPCM, BW, and BCS; it thus appears to be the most promising CH 4 trait for selection, provided that this would not deteriorate feed efficiency and that a system of large-scale phenotyping is developed. The MeP is easier to measure and thus may represent an acceptable alternative, although care would need to be taken to avoid undesirable changes in FPCM and BW.
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Dates and versions

hal-04083019 , version 1 (26-04-2023)





S Fresco, D Boichard, S Fritz, R Lefebvre, S Barbey, et al.. Comparison of methane production, intensity, and yield throughout lactation in Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 2023, 106 (6), pp.4147-4157. ⟨10.3168/jds.2022-22855⟩. ⟨hal-04083019⟩
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