Compositional mixed modelling of methane emissions and ruminal volatile fatty acids from individual cattle and multiple experiments

J Palarea-Albaladejo, JA Rooke, IM Nevison, RJ Dewhurst

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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The aim of the study was to investigate the association of methane (CH4) yields (g/kg DMI) with rumen VFA molar proportions and animal and diet-related covariates from individual animals and multiple experiments. The dataset available consisted of 284 measurements of CH4 yields for beef cattle from 6 experiments measured in indirect respiration chambers. A compositional modeling approach was employed where VFA measurements were considered as a whole, instead of in isolation, emphasizing their multivariate relative scale. The analysis revealed expected close groupings of acetate and butyrate; propionate and valerate; iso-butyrate and iso-valerate. Linear mixed models were then fitted to examine relationships between CH4 yield and VFA, represented by meaningful log-contrasts of components called compositional balances, while accounting for other animal and diet-related covariates and random variability between experiments. A compositional balance representing (acetate × butyrate)/propionate best explained the contribution of VFA to variation in CH4 yield. The covariates DMI, forage:concentrate proportion (expressed as a categorical variable diet type: high concentrate, mixed forage:concentrate or high forage), and diet ME were also statistically significant. These results provided new insights into the relative inter-relationships among VFA measurements and also between VFA and CH4 yield. In conclusion, VFA molar proportions as represented by compositional balances were a significant contributor to explaining variation in CH4 yields from individual cattle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2467 - 2480
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jun 2017
Publication statusFirst published - 8 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note



  • Compositional data
  • Methane production
  • Mixed models
  • Volatile fatty acids


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