INNOVATIVE approaches to nutrition have a place in supporting reduced methane emissions in dairy cows, according to Cargill’s ruminant lead for west Europe, Sander van Zijderveld.
Presenting at Total Dairy seminar (November 23), held in Warwickshire, he said: “Increasing productivity is a proven way of reducing methane emission intensity, and we’ve been doing this for many years, with fewer animals producing larger yields more efficiently.
“But, going forward, direct dietary inter-ventions will also play a role in reducing the carbon footprint in ruminant systems.”
Dr van Zijderveld added that one proven approach is the use of nitrate in ruminant diets to reduce enteric methane production. This technique, supported through extensive research by Cargill, involves the use of dietary nitrate to redirect hydrogen produced in the rumen during fermentation.
“This hydrogen would usually combine with carbon and produce methane,” he said.
“But if it combines with calcium nitrate supplied in the diet then ammonia is produced. This ammonia can then be used in the milk production pathway.”
More than 10 years of research into the use of dietary nitrate, including peer-reviewed papers and trials in dairy and beef cattle, has led to the development of Cargill’s methane-reducing feed product SilvAir.
This feed product is a carefully manu-factured feed-grade calcium nitrate com-prising 76 per cent nitrate and 22.5 per cent calcium, with a dry matter of 84 per cent.
“Including SilvAir in dairy diets at the recommended rates has been shown to cut methane emissions by up to 10 per cent, with no negative impact on performance. This represents a reduction in the production of CO2 equivalent of 1kg per cow per day when included at a rate of 1.6 per cent of the total diet dry matter in dairy diets.”
The product also offers an alternative source of dietary protein and calcium.
Based on its nutritional value, 100g of SilvAir can replace 40g of feed grade urea or 250g of soyabean meal in dairy diets.
And 100g of SilvAir can replace 60g of limestone, which is a source of calcium
and used in dairy mineral packs for milking cows.
SilvAir has been developed as part of Cargill’s sustainability roadmap.
“We are committed to helping farmers meet the production, welfare and environmental challenges by offering solutions that will promote greater sustainability,” he added.
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