Current incentives to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are meant to prevent even more drastic climate changes. Ruminant production is noted as a main source of greenhouse gas emissions. This notion became more eminent after the claim by Steinfeld et al. (2006) that global livestock production is a source of greenhouse gas emissions of similar magnitude than global transport activities.
In particular ruminant production contributes to greenhouse gas emission as a result of enteric production of methane (CH4). Various measures have been proposed to mitigate enteric CH4 emission. These measures address almost all nutritional factors also relevant for evaluation of feeding value and animal productivity, including feed intake, feed digestibility, carbohydrate composition, fat and crude protein content, resistance to rumen degradation, and so on. In this respect, evaluating the potential for CH4 emission and feed evaluation have a lot in common, and are basically two sides of the same coin.
Ruminant diets normally have a main roughage component with a relatively high fibre content (analyzed as Neutral Detergent Fibre, NDF). Hence, components with a high NDF content are associated with enteric CH4 emission by ruminants. Grass products are the main dietary component in temperate regions and their feeding value varies with grassland management and farming conditions (soil fertilization, grazing strategy, harvesting and conservation, feeding strategy, manure storage and manure application). The 'quality' of grass NDF reflects to a large extent grassland management and may have a significant impact on CH4 emission. It will be evaluated here to what extent and how NDF 'quality' affects enteric CH4 emission.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Lallemand Animal Nutrition.