Diet's role in methane production from livestock

Jennifer Ellis, Andre Bannink, James France, Ermias Kebreab, and Jan Dijkstra, Evaluation of enteric methane prediction equations for dairy cows used in whole farm models, Earth and Global Change Biology, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02188.x

Although cattle are responsible for as much as 30% of anthropogenic methane release, the differences in methane production that result from cattle feed have not been taken into account globally. This study evaluates nine equations used to estimate the amount of methane for whole-farm greenhouse-gas models. In data retrieved from 16 studies, methane production varied from 208 to 461 grams per day. While some prediction equations performed better than others overall, none captured much of the variation in methane emissions that resulted from dietary changes. As a result, the equations may introduce substantial error into inventories of greenhouse gas emissions and affect resulting policy actions.

UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH • UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS • WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY