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Methane Emission Intensity in a Classical Pasture Versus an Intensive TMR Feeding Program

26 December 2016

Biomin

CANADA - Remarks by Jennifer L. Ellis, University of Guelph & Wageningen University, during the ruminants breakout session at the 2016 World Nutrition Forum in Vancouver, Canada.

Classical comparisons between cows grazing pasture and those fed total mixed rations (TMR) show that, on average, cows on pasture have higher methane (CH4) emission intensity (methane/milk). However, to assess greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fairly from these two feeding strategies requires quantification of other emission ‘costs’ such as nitrous oxide (N2O), which can be much higher on pasture. In addition, the composition of the TMR must be considered. A TMR based on grain and silage will have a different CH4 emission intensity than a TMR which includes inedible by-products, as it is common in many parts of the world. Recent reviews have suggested that within either feeding strategy, targeting forage quality may have the biggest returns on reducing CH4 emission intensity. With the goal of feeding 9.5 billion people in 2050, the efficiency of human-edible protein generation from pasture versus TMR should also be considered.

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