Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Rumen research shows promising reduction in methane emissions and big weight gains in cattle.
Rumen research shows promising reduction in methane emissions and big weight gains in cattle.Research into the rumen of cattle has led to some encouraging results using additives to reduce methane emissions and increase weight gain. The CSIRO trialled a synthetic and a natural compound in the feed of 10 animals in a Queensland research feedlot. Team leader Ed Charmley said it reduced methane emissions by 30 per cent and increased weight gain in the cattle by 400–500 grams a day. Lead researcher Gonzalo Martinez said the compounds promoted some bacteria and inhibited others. "In this short experiment … one reduced the methane [by] targeting or eliminating the microbe that produced the methane, and another compound promoted another bacteria that used energy that wasn't available in the rumen, so the animal got a daily weight gain," he said.He said the additives did not affect fermentation in the rumen or the health of the animals. While Dr Martinez was not prepared to name the synthetic compound used, citing commercial confidentiality, Mr Charmley said the other natural compound was tannin which is a natural extract from tea and other plants. "A lot of plants have tannins naturally, leucaena for example, and we know it reduces methane." Dr Gonzalo Martinez talks to the crowd at the AgCatalyst conference in Sydney.Essential oils may also provide some natural compounds that could be turned into additives."The challenge, particularly in northern Australia, is how you get these products into the animal because they're out there grazing in large paddocks." He said they were looking at getting it into the diet through lick blocks or water medication. Meanwhile, Dr Martinez said the next step was to find compounds that were cheap enough to make them commercially viable."Our goal was to prove it and now our next step is finding other compounds to apply on farm situations," he said. listen