Methane Emissions and Rumen Metabolite Concentrations in Cattle Fed Two Different Silages

RB Bica*, Javier Palarea-Albaladejo, JPL Patricia Do Jardim Goncalves Lima, Dusan Uhrin, G A Miller, J M Bowen, David Pacheco, Alastair Macrae, RJ Dewhurst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, 18 animals were fed two forage-based diets: red clover (RC) and grass silage (GS), in a crossover-design experiment in which methane (CH4) emissions were recorded in respiration chambers. Rumen samples obtained through naso-gastric sampling tubes were analysed by NMR. Methane yield (g/kg DM) was significantly lower from animals fed RC (17.8±3.17) compared to GS (21.2±4.61) p=0.008. In total 42 metabolites were identified, 6 showing significant differences between diets (acetate, propionate, butyrate, valerate, 3-phenylopropionate, and 2-hydroxyvalerate). Partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) was used to assess which metabolites were more important to distinguish between diets and partial least squares (PLS) regressions were used to assess which metabolites were more strongly associated with the variation in CH4 emissions. Acetate, butyrate and propionate along with dimethylamine were important for the distinction between diets according to the PLS-DA results. PLS regression revealed that diet and dry matter intake are key factors to explain CH4 variation when included in the model. Additionally, PLS was conducted within diet, revealing that the association between metabolites and CH4 emissions can be conditioned by diet.
These results provide new insights into the methylotrophic methanogenic pathway, confirming that metabolite profiles change according to diet composition, with consequences for CH4 emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5441
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date31 Mar 2022
Publication statusFirst published - 31 Mar 2022


  • red clover
  • silage
  • methane
  • rumen
  • metabolites
  • proxies


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