To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Large efforts have been deployed in developing methods to estimate methane emissions from cattle. For large scale applications, accurate and inexpensive methane predictors are required. Within a livestock precision farming context, the objective of this work was to integrate real-time data on animal feeding behaviour with an in silico model for predicting the individual dynamic pattern of methane emission in cattle. The integration of real-time data with a mathematical model to predict variables that are not directly measured constitutes a software sensor. We developed a dynamic parsimonious grey-box model that uses as predictor variables either dry matter intake (DMI) or the intake time (IT). The model is described by ordinary differential equations.
Model building was supported by experimental data of methane emissions from respiration chambers. The data set comes from a study with finishing beef steers (cross-bred Charolais and purebred Luing finishing). Dry matter intake and IT were recorded using feed bins. For research purposes, in this work, our software sensor operated off-line. That is, the predictor variables (DMI, IT) were extracted from the recorded data (rather than from an on-line sensor). A total of 37 individual dynamic patterns of methane production were analyzed. Model performance was assessed by concordance analysis between the predicted methane output and the methane measured in respiration chambers. The model predictors DMI and IT performed similarly with a Lin’s concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) of 0.78 on average. When predicting the daily methane production, the CCC was 0.99 for both DMI and IT predictors. Consequently, on the basis of concordance analysis, our model performs very well compared with reported literature results for methane proxies and predictive models. As IT measurements are easier to obtain than DMI measurements, this study suggests that a software sensor that integrates our in silico model with a real-time sensor providing accurate IT measurements is a viable solution for predicting methane output in a large scale context.
Animal proteins are naturally 15N enriched relative to the diet and the extent of this difference (Δ15Nanimal-diet or N isotopic fractionation) has been correlated to N use efficiency (NUE; N gain or milk N yield/N intake) in some recent ruminant studies. The present study used meta-analysis to investigate whether Δ15Nanimal-diet can be used as a predictor of NUE across a range of dietary conditions, particularly at the level of between-animal variation. An additional objective was to identify variables related to N partitioning explaining the link between NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet. Individual values from eight publications reporting both NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet for domestic ruminants were used to create a database comprising 11 experimental studies, 41 treatments and individual animal values for NUE (n=226) and Δ15Nanimal-diet (n=291). Data were analyzed by mixed-effect regression analysis taking into account experimental factors as random effects on both the intercept and slope of the model. Diets were characterized according to the INRA feeding system in terms of N utilization at the rumen, digestive and metabolic levels. These variables were used in a partial least squares regression analysis to predict separately NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet variation, with the objective of identifying common variables linking NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet. For individuals reared under similar conditions (within-study) and at the same time (within-period), the variance of NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet not explained by dietary treatments (i.e. between-animal variation plus experimental error) was 35% and 55%, respectively. Mixed-effect regression analysis conducted with treatment means showed that Δ15Nanimal-diet was significantly and negatively correlated to NUE variation across diets (NUE=0.415 −0.055×Δ15Nanimal-diet). When using individual values and taking into account the random effects of study, period and diet, the relationship was also significant (NUE=0.358 −0.035×Δ15Nanimal-diet). However, there may be a biased prediction for animals close to zero, or in negative, N balance. When using a novel statistical approach, attempting to regress between-animal variation in NUE on between-animal variation in Δ15Nanimal-diet (without the influence of experimental factors), the negative relationship was still significant, highlighting the ability of Δ15Nanimal-diet to capture individual variability. Among the studied variables related to N utilization, those concerning N efficiency use at the metabolic level contributed most to predict both Δ15Nanimal-diet and NUE variation, with rumen fermentation and digestion contributing to a lesser extent. This study confirmed that on average Δ15Nanimal-diet can predict NUE variation across diets and across individuals reared under similar conditions.
Livestock production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, so will play a significant role in the mitigation effort. Recent literature highlights different strategies to mitigate GHG emissions in the livestock sector. Animal welfare is a criterion of sustainability and any strategy designed to reduce the carbon footprint of livestock production should consider animal welfare amongst other sustainability metrics. We discuss and tabulate the likely relationships and trade-offs between the GHG mitigation potential of mitigation strategies and their welfare consequences, focusing on ruminant species and on cattle in particular. The major livestock GHG mitigation strategies were classified according to their mitigation approach as reducing total emissions (inhibiting methane production in the rumen), or reducing emissions intensity (Ei; reducing CH4 per output unit without directly targeting methanogenesis). Strategies classified as antimethanogenic included chemical inhibitors, electron acceptors (i.e. nitrates), ionophores (i.e. Monensin) and dietary lipids. Increasing diet digestibility, intensive housing, improving health and welfare, increasing reproductive efficiency and breeding for higher productivity were categorized as strategies that reduce Ei. Strategies that increase productivity are very promising ways to reduce the livestock carbon footprint, though in intensive systems this is likely to be achieved at the cost of welfare. Other strategies can effectively reduce GHG emissions whilst simultaneously improving animal welfare (e.g. feed supplementation or improving health). These win–win strategies should be strongly supported as they address both environmental and ethical sustainability. In order to identify the most cost-effective measures for improving environmental sustainability of livestock production, the consequences of current and future strategies for animal welfare must be scrutinized and contrasted against their effectiveness in mitigating climate change.
The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between nitrogen (N) partitioning and isotopic fractionation in lactating goats consuming diets with a constant high concentration of N and increasing levels of water soluble carbohydrate (WSC). Eight lactating goats were offered four different ratios of WSC : N in the diet. A two-period incomplete cross-over design was used, with two goats assigned to each treatment in each period. N balance measurements were conducted, with measurement of feed N intake and total output of N in milk, faeces and urine. Treatment, period and infusion effects were tested using general ANOVA; the relationships between variables were analysed by linear regression. Dietary treatment and period had significant effects on dry matter (DM) intake (g/day). DM digestibility (g/kg DM) and N digestibility (g/kg N) increased as the ratio of WSC : N increased in the diet. No treatment effect was observed on milk urea N concentration (g/l) or urinary excretion of purine derivatives (mM/day). Although dietary treatment and period had significant effects on N intake, the change of N intake was small; no effect was observed for N partitioning among faeces, milk and urine. Milk, plasma and faeces were enriched in 15N compared with feed, whilst urine was depleted in 15N relative to feed. No significant relationship was established between N partitioning and isotopic fractionation. This study failed to confirm the potential to use N isotopic fractionation as an indicator of N partitioning in dairy goats when diets provided N in excess to requirements, most likely because the range of milk N output/N intake and urinary N output/N intake were narrow.
Fractionation of N isotopes occurs in many metabolic reactions which causes tissue proteins to become enriched in 15N while urea (urine) is depleted in 15N relative to the diet. We investigated 15N enrichment of whole plasma and its relationship with feed conversion efficiency (FCE) in growing beef heifers (n 84) offered 2 kg/d of concentrates with grass silage ad libitum. Heifers were on average 299 (sd 48·3) d old and weighed 311 (sd 48·8) kg. Plasma was obtained on day 79 (n 84) of the experiment and from a subset of animals (n 20) on four occasions between days 16 and 79. Silage DM intake (DMI) averaged 4·1 (sd 0·74) kg/d and concentrate DMI was 1·72 kg/d. Mean mid-test live weight was 333 (sd 47·6) kg, daily gain was 0·53 (sd 0·183) kg, FCE (g live-weight gain/g DMI) was 0·09 (sd 0·028) and residual feed intake (RFI) was 0 (sd 0·428). N isotopic fractionation (Δ15N; plasma δ15N − diet δ15N) averaged 3·58 ‰ on day 79 (n 84) and 3·90 ‰ for the subset of heifers. There was no relationship between Δ15N and RFI. Plasma δ15N and Δ15N were related to both FCE (negative) and animal weight (positive) for the whole population, and repeatable for the subset of animals over four time points. These relationships of Δ15N with FCE and animal weight are consistent with the anticipated negative relationship with N-use efficiency. There is potential to use Δ15N to provide rapid, low-cost estimates of FCE in cattle.
The targeting of mcrA or 16S rRNA genes by quantitative PCR (qPCR) has become the dominant method for quantifying methanogens in rumen. There are considerable discrepancies between estimates based on different primer sets, and the literature is equivocal about the relationship with methane production. There are a number of problems with qPCR, including low primer specificity, multiple copies of genes and multiple genomes per cell. Accordingly, we have investigated alternative markers for methanogens, on the basis of the distinctive ether lipids of archaeal cell membranes. The membranes of Archaea contain dialkyl glycerol ethers such as 2,3-diphytanayl-O-sn-glycerol (archaeol), and glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) such as caldarchaeol (GDGT-0) in different proportions. The relationships between estimates of methanogen abundance using qPCR and archaeol measurements varied across primers. Studies in other ecosystems have identified environmental effects on the profile of ether lipids in Archaea. There is a long history of analysing easily accessible samples, such as faeces, urine and milk, to provide information about digestion and metabolism in livestock without the need for intrusive procedures. Purine derivatives in urine and odd-chain fatty acids in milk have been used to study rumen function. The association between volatile fatty acid proportions and methane production is probably the basis for empirical relationships between milk fatty acid profiles and methane production. However, these studies have not yet identified consistent predictors. We have evaluated the relationship between faecal archaeol concentration and methane production across a range of diets in studies on beef and dairy cattle. Faecal archaeol is diagnostic for ruminant faeces being below the limit of detection in faeces from non-ruminant herbivores. The relationship between faecal archaeol and methane production was significant when comparing treatment means across diets, but appears to be subject to considerable between-animal variation. This variation was also evident in the weak relationship between archaeol concentrations in rumen digesta and faeces. We speculate that variation in the distribution and kinetics of methanogens in the rumen may affect the survival and functioning of Archaea in the rumen and therefore contribute to genetic variation in methane production. Indeed, variation in the relationship between the numbers of micro-organisms present in the rumen and those leaving the rumen may explain variation in relationships between methane production and both milk fatty acid profiles and faecal archaeol. As a result, microbial markers in the faeces and milk are unlikely to relate well back to methanogenesis in the rumen. This work has also highlighted the need to describe methanogen abundance in all rumen fractions and this may explain the difficulty interpreting results on the basis of samples taken using stomach tubes or rumenocentesis.
The main objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between partitioning and isotopic fractionation of nitrogen (N) in sheep consuming diets with varying ratios of N to water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC). Six non-lactating sheep were offered a constant dry matter (DM) allowance with one of three ratios of dietary N/WSC, achieved by adding sucrose and urea to lucerne pellets. A replicated 3 dietary treatments (Low, Medium and High N/WSC) × 3 (collection periods) and a Latin square design was used, with two sheep assigned to each treatment in each period. Feed, faeces, urine, plasma, wool, muscle and liver samples were collected and analysed for 15N concentration. Nitrogen intake and outputs in faeces and urine were measured for each sheep using 6-day total collections. Blood urea N (BUN) and urinary excretion of purine derivative were also measured. Treatment effects were tested using general ANOVA; the relationships between measured variables were analysed by linear regression. BUN and N intake increased by 46% and 35%, respectively, when N/WSC increased 2.5-fold. However, no indication of change in microbial protein synthesis was detected. Results indicated effects of dietary treatments on urinary N/faecal N, faecal N/N intake and retained N/N intake. In addition, the linear relationships between plasma δ15N and urinary N/N intake and muscle δ15N and retained N/N intake based on individual measurements showed the potential of using N isotopic fractionation as an easy-to-use indicator of N partitioning when N supply exceeds that required to match energy supply in the diet.
Two Latin square design experiments investigated the relationship between hydrogen sulphide concentration in the rumen headspace gas of dairy cows and the early stages of protein degradation in the rumen. In Expt 1, three protein sources differing in rumen N (nitrogen) degradability (maize gluten feed (MGF); sunflower meal (SFM); and soyabean meal (SBM)) were used, whereas in Expt 2 four different batches of the same feed (MGF) differing in colour (CIE L*, a*, b* (CIELAB) scale) were used. After allowing the concentration of hydrogen sulphide in rumen gas to decline close to zero, a fixed amount of protein sources was offered to cows and the concentrations of hydrogen sulphide were recorded in rumen headspace gas at 30-min intervals. In Expt 1, the concentration of hydrogen sulphide showed considerable variation between protein sources, with MGF having the highest concentration followed by SFM and SBM resulting in very low concentrations. The N wash losses (zero time measurements with nylon bags) ranked the feeds in the same way, from MGF (highest; 61%) to SBM (lowest; 26%). There were marked differences in the degradation of cystine and methionine between protein sources, although the degradation of cystine was always higher than for methionine. MGF (Expt 2) led to increased concentrations of hydrogen sulphide, with peak concentrations achieved between 1 and 2 h after feeding. The concentrations of hydrogen sulphide were higher for MGF1, intermediate for MGF2 and lower for MGF3 and MGF4, agreeing with colour scale. Differences in the early stages of dietary sulphur degradation corresponded with differences in hydrogen sulphide concentrations in rumen gas. The results suggest that hydrogen sulphide concentrations in the rumen headspace gas could be useful to evaluate nutritional parameters not measured by the in sacco technique, contributing to a better understanding of the response of dairy cows to different protein supplements.
Eight multiparous lactating Holstein–Friesian cows were used to evaluate the partitioning of dietary nitrogen (N) from diets based on mixtures of red clover and maize silages in comparison with diets based on ryegrass silage. All cows received 4 kg/day of a standard dairy concentrate with one of four forage treatments in an incomplete changeover design with three 4-week periods. Three treatments were based on mixtures of red clover and maize silage. N intake was altered both by varying the ratio of these silages (40/60 and 25/75 on a dry matter (DM) basis) and by an additional treatment for which the DM intake of the 40/60 mixture was restricted to the level achieved with grass silage. Rumen passage rates were estimated from faecal excretion curves following a pulse oral dose of Dysprosium-labeled silage and urinary excretion of purine derivatives (PD) was used as an index of rumen microbial protein synthesis. Red clover silage mixtures led to significantly increased feed intake (21.5, 20.7 and 15.2 kg DM/day for 40/60 and 25/75 red clover/maize silage mixtures and grass silage, respectively), milk production (25.8, 27.8 and 20.0 kg/day for the same treatments, respectively) and milk component yields, but were without effect on milk fat and protein concentrations. The large increase in the yield of milk (24.5 kg/day) and milk components for the restricted red clover/maize silage treatment, in comparison with the grass silage treatment, was proportionately greater than the increase in DM intake (16.6 kg DM/day). There were no significant treatment effects on diet digestibility, while the higher intakes of red clover silage mixtures were associated with higher rumen passage rates (5.82%, 6.24% and 4.55%/h, respectively). There were significant effects of both N intake and forage source on the partitioning of dietary N between milk and urine. When dietary protein was diluted by the inclusion of maize silage, red clover silage led to increased milk N and reduced urinary N in comparison with grass silage. Improvements in N utilisation may be related to increased dietary starch and/or rumen passage rates leading to increased microbial protein synthesis for these treatments. Urinary excretion of PD was significantly higher for all diets based on mixtures of red clover and maize silages, in comparison with grass silage. Urinary N output was close to literature predictions based on N intake for the diet based on ryegrass silage, but 40 to 80 g/day (25% to 30%) less than predicted for the diets based on the mixtures of red clover and maize silages.
This study used individual weekly results for 160 non-lactating Holstein–Friesian dairy cows in the last 5 weeks of gestation to develop regression equations based on forage NDF content and individual body condition score (BCS) for predicting dry matter (DM) intake. Results were used from treatments in which cows received the same forage and no concentrates throughout the dry period. Ten different conserved forages, either grass silages or mixtures of grass silage and barley straw, were fed in six different experiments and forage NDF ranged from 452 to 689 g/kg DM. On average cows gained 390 g live weight per day, which is less than conceptus growth at this stage – suggesting some mobilisation of maternal tissues to support conceptus growth. BCS remained unchanged at 2.5 over the dry period. DM intake declined from 10.79 kg/day 5 weeks before calving to 9.32 kg/day in the week before calving, with half of this decline occurring in the final week before calving. Intake as a percentage of live weight was moderately predicted (R2 = 0.61 for the entire period) from measures of diet composition (NDF) and cow state (BCS). There were highly significant negative effects of forage NDF and increased BCS on DM intake. The effect of BCS on DM intake was greatly reduced in the week before calving, possibly as a result of a change in metabolic priorities from gaining to losing body reserves.
This experiment evaluated different strategies for allocating first-cut grass silages to dry dairy cows that had low body-condition score (BCS) at drying off. A total of 48 moderately yielding Holstein-Friesian cows were used, receiving one of three dietary treatments in the dry period and a single lactation diet based on a flat-rate of concentrates and grass silage ad libitum. Throughout the dry period, one group received a low-digestibility silage (harvested 15 June 1998; LL; metabolisable energy (ME) = 10.3 MJ/kg dry matter (DM)) and a second group received a high-digestibility silage (harvested 9 May 1998, HH; ME = 11.7 MJ/kg DM). A third strategy (LH) offered the low-digestibility silage in the early dry period and the high-digestibility silage in the final 3 weeks before calving. The silages had very different crude protein concentrations (144 and 201 g/kg DM) and intakes were widely divergent (10.1 v. 13.5 kg DM/day) across the dry period. No concentrates were fed during the dry period. Silage quality had a very large effect on liveweight change, with treatment means of 0.32 and 1.75 kg/day for LL and HH, respectively. BCS changes followed a similar pattern, though no cows became over-conditioned and blood metabolites were within normal ranges. Increased silage digestibility in the late dry period led to a substantial increase in milk fat concentration and a smaller increase in milk protein concentration, the latter confined to the first full week of lactation. Depression of milk fat appears related to low blood glucose when dry cows in low body condition are fed at a low level. The LH strategy avoided the tendency for lower milk yields and fat concentration that resulted from feeding the low-digestibility silage until calving. This strategy also avoided the higher calf weights that resulted from feeding the high-digestibility silage in the early dry period.
Rapid breakdown of herbage proteins in the rumen and inefficient capture of nitrogen (N) by the rumen microbial populations are a major source of N loss and pollution in pasture-based ruminant agriculture. Degree of cell damage during mastication and ingestion varies between grass species with consequences for release of cell contents (protein, sugars and lipids) into the rumen (Kim et al., 2008). Consequently, grazing cattle on different grass species may provide an opportunity to manipulate N efficiency. The purpose of this study was to compare N utilisation efficiency by dairy cattle grazing grass species differing in chemical and morphological characteristics.
As grazing ruminants rely almost entirely on mastication to disrupt plant tissues, a series of processes (mastication, bolus formation and ingestion) will impact on the viability and number of cells that remain intact, and consequently alive, after ingestion (Kingston-Smith and Theodorou, 2000). Preliminary work in our group has shown substantial variation in the degree of cell damage during mastication and ingestion between grass species, resulting in differences in the rate of release of cell contents (protein, sugars and lipids) into the rumen (E.J. Kim, unpublished). These differences may affect nutrient utilisation by ruminal micro-organisms. The aim of this study was to compare the extent of nutrient release from three contrasting grass species following ingestion of the fresh forage by dairy cows.
The productive response of dairy cows to relatively high protein diets could be mediated, amongst other things, by provision of essential amino acids. Therefore, it may be possible to reduce the level of dietary protein (main source of N pollution) if the amino acid (AA) profile of metabolisable protein (MP) is considered in formulating diets. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of both dietary crude protein (CP) content and AA profile of MP on productive responses of dairy cows fed maize silage-based diets.
The enzyme polyphenol oxidase (PPO) may be responsible for increases in both dietary-nitrogen utilisation and the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids in ruminant products when animals eat red clover (Lee et al. 2004). The enzymatic reaction requires the presence of oxygen and therefore is assumed to be inhibited in the anaerobic rumen. However, little information exists as to the concentration of oxygen in boluses and whether this could sustain the aerobic enzymes activity in the reticulo-rumen. This study investigated the concentration of oxygen in grass-boluses measured in vitro or in vivo in the rumen of two rumen fistulated cows.
The enzyme polyphenol oxidase (PPO) requires both plant tissue damage and the presence of oxygen to become activated. It has been shown that with a large window of opportunity for oxygen activation, such as during ensilage of red clover, increases in both dietary-nitrogen utilisation and the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids in ruminant products can be achieved. However, there is little evidence as to whether such responses can be achieved during the grazing of fresh red clover, where the window of opportunity for oxygen activation is limited to the mastication period (Lee et al. 2006). This experiment investigated whether mastication of fresh red clover would result in the activation of PPO and its potential effects on protein and lipid profiles in the resulting bolus.
The objective of this study was to determine the proportion of forage in the diet which would maximize duodenal flow of unsaturated fatty acids in beef steers supplemented with linseed oil. A second objective was to determine how diets differing in forage content, but equal in nitrogen (N), energy and lipid supply, would affect the duodenal flow of C18:1 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomers. Eight Hereford×Friesian steers (533±13·6 kg), prepared with rumen and duodenal cannulae were offered one of four forage:concentrate (F:C) ratios: F80C20; F60C40; F40C60 and F20C80 on a dry-matter (DM) basis. All diets were offered at 0·013 body weight and designed to be isonitrogenous and isoenergetic with total lipid made up to 0·06 DM intake with linseed oil. The experimental design was a replicated incomplete 4×4 Latin square with three periods. Increasing the concentrate component in the diet from 0·20 to 0·60 reduced rumen pH from 6·58 to 6·37 and caused a small but significant shift in volatile fatty acid molar proportions, decreasing the non-glucogenic ratio. Rumen ammonia-nitrogen concentration was also significantly reduced with increasing concentrate, from 156·8 to 101·0 mg N per l on F80C20 and F20C80, respectively. Microbial nitrogen (MN) and the efficiency of microbial protein synthesis was significantly elevated as forage level decreased from 51·6 to 72·4 g/day and 17·2 to 27·3 g MN per kg organic matter apparently digested in the rumen, respectively for F80C20 and F20C80. Intake and duodenal flow of C18:1n-9 and C18:2n-6 were significantly higher with increasing concentrate level in the diet whereas C18:3n-3 intake and flow was not different, averaging 143·6 and 6·37 g/day, respectively. There were no differences in the flows of total C18:1 trans or CLA (47·7 and 1·79 g/day, respectively) across the diets. However, although not significantly different in duodenal flow there were trends (P<0·1) for an increasing proportion of trans-10 and a decreasing proportion of trans-11 when increasing the concentrate in the diet. Biohydrogenation of C18:2n-6 decreased from 0·91 to 0·85 when increasing concentrate in the diet from 0·20 to 0·40 but further increases had no effect. F:C ratio had little effect on the flow of unsaturated fatty acids, C18:1 trans and CLA to the duodenum of beef steers, and this may relate to the ability of the rumen to buffer the large changes in concentrate intake.
Demand for milk has waxed and waned over the last 100 years in response to changing perceptions of its health effects. Milk consumption was promoted for health benefits in the first half of the twentieth century, whilst milk fat has increasingly been regarded as something to avoid over the last 30 years. Emerging research is showing that milk fat provides a number of important components, almost uniquely, within a balanced human diet. Understanding of the role of animal diets in controlling milk fat content and milk fatty acid profiles has grown over this period. The multiple correlated changes associated with milk fat depression have led to a number of mechanistic theories which have not been resolved completely. The detailed mechanisms at the molecular level remain to be elucidated. Interestingly, the two research areas of milk fat content and milk fatty acid profiles have merged as it became clear that some of the intermediates of rumen biohydrogenation are involved in regulating milk fat content. The multivariate nature of milk fatty acid profiles means that future studies must make use of multivariate statistical techniques. These approaches will also be of great value in assessing the consequences of fatty acids for human health, where studies of the effects of single nutrients can be misleading. Issues about the sustainability of the marine harvests mean that attention needs to focus on alternative sources to meet the growing demand for n-3 fatty acids, notably from forages. Whilst attention has focused on milk fatty acids for their effects on human health, future work should also address effects on health and reproductive function of cows offered diets designed to alter milk fatty acid profiles.