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Estimation of the maintenance energy requirements, methane emissions and nitrogen utilization efficiency of two suckler cow genotypes

  • C. X. Zou (a1) (a2), F. O. Lively (a1), A. R. G. Wylie (a1) and T. Yan (a1)

Abstract

Seventeen non-lactating dairy-bred suckler cows (LF; Limousin×Holstein-Friesian) and 17 non-lactating beef composite breed suckler cows (ST; Stabiliser) were used to study enteric methane emissions and energy and nitrogen (N) utilization from grass silage diets. Cows were housed in cubicle accommodation for 17 days, and then moved to individual tie-stalls for an 8-day digestibility balance including a 2-day adaption followed by immediate transfer to an indirect, open-circuit, respiration calorimeters for 3 days with gaseous exchange recorded over the last two of these days. Grass silage was offered ad libitum once daily at 0900 h throughout the study. There were no significant differences (P>0.05) between the genotypes for energy intakes, energy outputs or energy use efficiency, or for methane emission rates (methane emissions per unit of dry matter intake or energy intake), or for N metabolism characteristics (N intake or N output in faeces or urine). Accordingly, the data for both cow genotypes were pooled and used to develop relationships between inputs and outputs. Regression of energy retention against ME intake (r 2=0.52; P<0.001) indicated values for net energy requirements for maintenance of 0.386, 0.392 and 0.375 MJ/kg0.75 for LF+ST, LF and ST respectively. Methane energy output was 0.066 of gross energy intake when the intercept was omitted from the linear equation (r 2=0.59; P<0.001). There were positive linear relationships between N intake and N outputs in manure, and manure N accounted for 0.923 of the N intake. The present results provide approaches to predict maintenance energy requirement, methane emission and manure N output for suckler cows and further information is required to evaluate their application in a wide range of suckler production systems.

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