Ongoing Activities

  • In vitro and in vivo studies completed in the EU FP7 project “SMEthane”, David Yáñez-Ruiz
  • Focus on ongoing INRA research programs and methodologies related to FNN activities, Maguy Eugene
  • Improvements in New Zealand’s pasture-based agriculture systems and research on the GHG benefits of these improvements, Garry Waghorn
  • Perception of and expectations from an industry representative regarding (the outcome of) networks, such as the FNN , Jan Agri, DeLaval

Although animal science can never deliver a black or white result, the industry is facilitated by little grey or much grey results as for example with the EU FP7-SMEthane project where 5 universities and 5 companies cooperated.


Activities by member countries

Penn State University

The main research focus at Penn State University is on the use of nutritional means to mitigate Resent research at Penn State has investigated the effect of an inhibitor on rumen methane production, feed intake, and milk yield and composition in lactating Holstein cows. A 12-wk randomized block design experiment with 48 cows showed a 30% reduction in absolute or per kg of dry matter intake methane production (measured using GreenFeed and the SF6 tracer method). Dry matter intake (average of 27.5 ± 0.42 kg/d), total tract nutrient digestibility, milk yield (45.5 ± 1.06 kg/d), and milk fat and protein concentrations were not affected by the inhibitor. Body weight of the cows was not different among treatments, but body weight gain tended to increase for the inhibitor-treated cows. Hydrogen production was increased by the methane inhibitor. The effect on methane production occurred within 2 wks of treatment and persisted throughout the experiment.

University of California, Davis

Research at UC-Davis is focused on the development of mathematical models for predicting greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient loading to the environment from livestock production. Efforts are underway to build extensive databases covering various production systems to construct models and evaluate those using observed data to understand the main variables affecting emissions and assess mitigation options.

Teagasc Grange, Ireland

The group at Teagasc Grange has collaborated with University College Dublin in using the SF6 technique to estimate enteric methane output of beef cattle (a) differing in residual feed intake characteristics and (b) consuming diets differing in the relative proportions of forage and grain. They have also undertaken extensive in vitro rumen studies to characterize feeds (grass species, ryegrass variety, sugar content and type, grass growth stage, nitrogen fertilization, inclusion of white or red clover with ryegrass, non-legume forbs, sward allowance, herbage mass, ensilage, etc.) for their methanogenic potential under standard conditions, and to assess the effects of selected chemical and biological agents as restrictors of rumen methanogenesis. Beef systems simulation models are used to estimate the effects of alternative farm management practices on enteric methane output, carbon footprint of beef output, and overall system profits. An ongoing collaborative project between Teagasc Grange, University College Dublin and the AgriFood and Biosciences Institute in N. Ireland that aims to describe the N efficiency of cattle grazing grassland, and explore mechanisms for reducing urinary N losses in particular.

The Ohio State University

The OSU group is interested in studies of the rumen and gut microbiome and its role in feed digestion, methane emission, and nitrogen excretion.  At community level, the genetic and the functional diversity is being investigated, while at population level, the dynamics of particular species or guilds, such as fibrolytic bacteria, methanogens, sulfate-reducing bacteria, and amino acid-fermenting bacteria, are investigated in the context of feed digestion and rumen function. Both traditional microbiological methodologies and current state-of-the-art metagenomic and bioinformatic techniques are used to achieve research goal - to advance basic understanding on the role of rumen and gut microbiome and to apply new knowledge to enhance feed utilization while minimizing the environmental impact of food-animal production.

MTT Agrifood Research, Finland

Experiments conducted at MTT are aimed at identifying between-animal variation in nutrient digestibility and digestion kinetics and genetic control of rumen microbiome, feed efficiency and methane emissions in lactating dairy cows. High- and low-feed efficiency cows are being selected from a population of 100 Finnish Ayrshire cows that have been genotyped, and energy losses as methane and nutrient digestibility have been measured. Digestion kinetics, methane production, nitrogen excretion and whole tract nutrient digestibility are studied. Samples of ruminal digesta are collected for metagenomic sequencing analyses. Another study is examining the genetic control of rumen microbiome, feed efficiency and methane emissions in lactating dairy cows. High- and low-efficiency cows will also be used to identify the genetic influence of the ruminant animal in controlling the composition and function of the rumen microbiome. Methane emission and nitrogen excretion data from previous experiments conducted using dairy cows are being shared with the GLOBAL NETWORK project.