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Journal of Dairy Science
Vol. 99 (5), 2016, Pages: 3445–3456

Increasing linseed supply in dairy cow diets based on hay or corn silage: Effect on enteric methane emission, rumen microbial fermentation, and digestion

C. Martin, A. Ferlay, P. Mosoni, Y. Rochette, Y. Chilliard, M. Doreau

INRA, UMR1213 Herbivores, F-63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France.


We investigated the effects of increasing extruded linseed supply in diets based on hay (H; experiment 1) or corn silage (CS; experiment 2) on enteric methane (CH4) emission, rumen microbial and fermentation parameters, and rumen and total-tract digestibility. In each experiment, 4 lactating Holstein cows fitted with cannulas at the rumen and proximal duodenum were used in a 4 × 4 Latin square design (28-d periods). Cows were fed ad libitum a diet [50:50 and 60:40 forage:concentrate on a dry matter (DM) basis for experiments 1 and 2, respectively] without supplementation (H0, CS0) or supplemented with extruded linseed at 5% (H5, CS5), 10% (H10, CS10), and 15% (H15, CS15) of dietary DM (i.e., 1.8, 3.6 and 5.4% total fatty acids added, respectively). All measurements were carried out during the last 8 d of each period. Linseed supply linearly decreased daily CH4 emission in cows fed H diets (from 486 to 289 g/d for H0 to H15, on average) and CS diets (from 354 to 207 g/d for CS0 to CS15, on average). The average decrease in CH4 per kilogram of DM intake was, respectively, −7, −15, and −38% for H5, H10, H15 compared with the H0 diet, and −4, −8, and −34% for CS5, CS10, and CS15 compared with the CS0 diet. The same dose-response effect was observed on CH4 emission in percent of gross energy intake, per kilogram of nutrient digested, and per kilogram of 4% fat- and 3.3% protein-corrected milk (FPCM) in both experiments. Changes in the composition of rumen volatile fatty acids in response to increasing linseed supply resulted in a moderate or marked linear decrease in acetate:propionate ratio for H or CS diets, respectively. The depressive effect of linseed on total protozoa concentration was linear for H diets (−15 to −40%, on average, for H5 to H15 compared with H0) and quadratic for CS diets (−17 to −83%, on average, for CS5 to CS15 compared with CS0). Concentration of methanogens was similar among H or CS diets. The energetic benefits from the decreased CH4 emission with linseed supply in diets based on hay or corn silage did not improve digestibility or milk yield. Milk efficiency (kg of FPCM/kg of DM intake) was improved with linseed supply up to H10 in H diets and was unchanged in CS diets. Lower CH4 enteric emission from dairy cows fed linseed helps limit the environmental footprint of ruminant livestock.

Keywords: dairy cow; digestion; hay or corn silage; linseed; methane.

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