Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces methane emission in beef cattle fed sugarcane-based diets

R. B.A. Hulshof, A. Berndt, W. J.J. Gerrits, J. Dijkstra, S. M. van Zijderveld, J. R. Newbold, H. B. Perdok

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104 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine the effect of dietary nitrate on methane emission and rumen fermentation parameters in Nellore × Guzera (Bos indicus) beef cattle fed a sugarcane based diet. The experiment was conducted with 16 steers weighing 283 ± 49 kg (mean ± SD), 6 rumen cannulated and 10 intact steers, in a cross-over design. The animals were blocked according to BW and presence or absence of rumen cannula and randomly allocated to either the nitrate diet (22 g nitrate/ kg DM) or the control diet made isonitrogenous by the addition of urea. The diets consisted of freshly chopped sugarcane and concentrate (60:40 on DM basis), fed as a mixed ration. A 16-d adaptation period was used to allow the rumen microbes to adapt to dietary nitrate. Methane emission was measured using the sulfur hexafluoride tracer technique. Dry matter intake (P = 0.09) tended to be less when nitrate was present in the diet compared with the control, 6.60 and 7.05 kg/d DMI, respectively. The daily methane production was reduced (P < 0.01) by 32% when steers were fed the nitrate diet (85 g/d) compared with the urea diet (125 g/d). Methane emission per kilogram DMI was 27% less (P < 0.01) on the nitrate diet (13.3 g methane/kg DMI) than on the control diet (18.2 g methane/kg DMI). Methane losses as a fraction of gross energy intake (GEI) were less (P < 0.01) on the nitrate diet (4.2% of GEI) than on the control diet (5.9% of GEI). Nitrate mitigated enteric methane production by 87% of the theoretical potential. The rumen fluid ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N) concentration was significantly greater (P < 0.05) for the nitrate diet. The total concentration of VFA was not affected (P = 0.61) by nitrate in the diet, while the proportion of acetic acid tended to be greater (P = 0.09), propionic acid less (P = 0.06) and acetate/propionate ratio tended to be greater (P = 0.06) for the nitrate diet. Dietary nitrate reduced enteric methane emission in beef cattle fed sugarcane based diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2317-2323
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume90
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2012 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Beef cattle
  • Methane
  • Nitrate
  • Rumen parameters
  • Sugarcane
  • Sulfur hexafluoride

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