World J Microbiol Biotechnol (2008) 24:2747–2755 DOI 10.

1007/s11274-008-9819-y

REVIEW

Mitigation of ruminant methane production: current strategies, constraints and future options
Muhammad Farooq Iqbal Æ Yan-Fen Cheng Æ Wei-Yun Zhu Æ Basit Zeshan

Received: 24 March 2008 / Accepted: 9 July 2008 / Published online: 31 July 2008 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Abstract Mitigating methane losses from cattle has economic as well as environmental benefits. The aim of this paper is to review the current approaches in relation to associated advantages and disadvantages and future options to reduce enteric methane emission from cattle. Current technologies can be broadly grouped into those that increase productivity of the animal (improved nutrition strategies) so that less methane is produced per unit of meat or milk, and those that directly modify the rumen fermentation so that less methane is produced in total. Data suggest that many of these practices are not appropriate for long term mitigation of methane emissions in ruminants because of their constraints. So it is necessity to develop long term strategies in suppressing methane production. An integrated research investigating animal, plant, microbe and nutrient level strategies would offer a long term solution of methane production. Genetic selection of animals, vaccination, probiotics, prebiotics and plant improvement are the most promising options of all the future approaches discussed. These approaches will reduce enteric methane production without any hazard to animal or environment. Keywords Mitigation Á Ruminant methane Á Constraints Á Future options Introduction Global mean surface temperatures have increased between 1.0 and 1.7 F since 1850 (EPA 2008). Scientists expect that
M. F. Iqbal Á Y.-F. Cheng Á W.-Y. Zhu (&) Á B. Zeshan Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Microbiology, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, People’s Republic of China e-mail: zhuweiyunnjau@hotmail.com

global average temperatures could increase by as much as 5 C (9 F) by the middle of the 21st century. As a contributor to global warming, methane (CH4) is second only to carbon dioxide, and accounts for 16% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally (Scheehle and Kruger 2006). The ability of methane to retain heat (global warming potential) is 21 times more than carbon dioxide (EPA 2008). Analyses of air trapped in polar ice show that over at least the past 450,000 years and four glacial cycles, the methane mixing ratio, while correlating strongly with temperature, has not exceeded *700 ppb (Delmotte et al. 2004). Etheridge et al. (1998) have documented a relatively stable atmospheric methane of 693 ± 10 (1 SD) ppb over 1010–1700 AD, followed by a steadily rising mixing ratio reaching 1,750 ppb in 2000 (Fig. 1). There is no doubt that this 2.5-fold increase in atmospheric methane over three centuries is caused by human activities, with agriculture, most notably livestock and rice farming, prominent among them. Methane production from ruminants has been identified as the single largest source of anthropogenic CH4 (Mathison et al. 1998). Livestock emit methane as part of their natural digestive processes. The rumen is the home to billions of microbes, including bacteria, methanogens, protozoa and fungi. These microbes breakdown feed to produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs), carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane. The VFAs are used by animal as energy source whereas gases are removed by eructation. According to FAO, the world livestock population in 2004 comprised of 1,365 million cattle 172 million buffaloes 1,059.8 million sheep, 790 million goats and 943.8 million pigs. The estimated CH4 emission from enteric fermentation is 17–30% of global production. According to Johnson and Johnson (1995), cattle can produce 250–500 l of methane per day per animal. Cattle

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dry matter intake and feeding level are kept constant (adopted from Yan et al. 1998). forage-toconcentrate ratio. A positive response to high levels of starch-based concentrate (grains) on methane reduction has also been reported by others (Beauchemin and McGinn 2005). 1998) and on contemporary measurements based on the global NOAA/CMDL monitoring network (Dlugokencky et al. 2 The effects of increasing the proportion of concentrates in the diet of methane output when total digestible energy intake. nature of concentrate (fibrous versus starchy concentrate). less methane means increased efficiency of livestock production and increased income for farmers. mitigating methane losses from cattle has two important benefits. Studies have been conducted to determine the effect of starch-based and fiber-based concentrates on enteric CH4 production. Thus. Forage type and quality Benchaar et al. Further.26 and 16. forage processing. and upgrading and supplementation of poor quality forages (straw). 1998. Current mitigation strategies Improved nutrition strategies Concentrates The proportion of concentrate within the diet has been reported to be negatively correlated with methane emissions (Holter and Young 1992. (2005) demonstrated that increased fiber-based concentrate use at pasture reduced enteric methane per kilogram of animal product (19. Methane production was reduced (-7% and -40%) by increasing DMI and the proportion of concentrate in the diet. measured against 1983 NOAA/CMDL gas standards typically lose 2–15% of their ingested energy as eructated methane (Giger-Reverdin and Sauvant 2000). increased levels of concentrates may result in health problems e. less methane means a lower concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. Simulated strategies included: dry matter intake (DMI). 1 A reconstruction of the global-mean methane mixing ratio in the troposphere (lower atmosphere) over three centuries based on measurements in air trapped in Antarctic ice and firn (Etheridge et al. An increased proportion of starch in the diet changes ruminal volatile fatty acid (VFAs) concentrations in such a way that less acetate and more propionate is formed. type of starch (slowly versus rapidly degraded). concentrate feeding has shown to reduce methane output by reducing the protozoal population (Van Soest 1982).2748 World J Microbiol Biotechnol (2008) 24:2747–2755 Fig. forage species (legume versus grass). Yan et al. forage preservation method (dried versus ensiled). and the supply of hydrogen for methanogenesis is limited. The atmospheric record for the centuries preceding 1700 AD is relatively featureless (Etheridge et al. which reduces methanogenic activity (Walichnowski and Lawrence 1982). However. Firstly. The use Fig. 1 ppb = 1 nmol/mol dry air. (2001) used a modelling approach to assess the effectiveness of different existing nutritional strategies to reduce methane production from ruminants. 2000.g. Lovett et al. High cost of production in the case of concentrate feeding limits their use in low cost systems. Secondly. Fig.02 g of CH4/kg of fat-corrected milk). Also. 2). the pH decreases as the proportion of propionate increases. forage maturity. 2000) 123 . 2003). acidosis.

otherwise.World J Microbiol Biotechnol (2008) 24:2747–2755 2749 of more digestible forage (less mature and processed forage) resulted in a reduction of methane production (-15% and -21%). This reduces methane emissions per unit of milk or meat production. the steroidal hormones which cause skin shedding in insects. Ciliate protozoa are not present at birth but normally start establishing in the gastrointestinal tract 3 weeks after birth (Fonty et al. Boundary layer techniques). due to the rise in feed intake associated with improved digestibility of pasture. calcium peroxide. synthetic chemicals including copper sulfate. For example. Although many methods have been employed to measure or calculate methane emissions from ruminants (e. no date). and evaluation of the high variability of the technique. On the other ¨ hand. second. Rumen modification strategies Defaunation The elimination of protozoa from the rumen is termed defaunation. Ionophores Ionophores are polyether antibiotics produced by soil microorganisms that modulate the movement of cations such as sodium. Digestion will be negatively affected if animals are def¨ aunated completely (Machmuller et al. 2004). Methane emissions per unit of feed intake can be reduced by use of grass cultivars selected for improved animal performance. dry matter intake is reduced and feed conversion efficiency is increased as reported by Raun (1990). pasture improvement will be a valuable option only if accompanied with reduced animal numbers. Some reports indicate that the reduction of methane production by defaunation is only temporary (Ranilla et al.g Flux gradient techniques. Hegarty (1999a) concluded from reviewed data that this symbiotic association results in 40% of methanogenesis in rumen fluid. Methane production was lower with legume than with grass forage (-28%). In relation to feed conversion efficiency. Legumes generally have higher dry matter intakes and produce more milk solids. they depress ciliate protozoa population (Guan et al. These defaunation approaches include dietary manipulation (virginiamycin. 2003). 1988). (2003) found no reduction in methane production in sheep fed diets based on maize silage. it is very important that there be confidence in the accuracy of the methane measurement technology. Ionophores affect methane production in four ways: first. hay and concentrate. The PGgRC (2005) annual report indicated that cultivars showed significant differences at 12 h in % accumulated methane in vitro. Dohme et al. (1995a. fourth. 1986). Some problems are associated with defaunation. potassium and calcium across cell membranes. In a particular trial O’Kelly and Spiers (1992) attributed 55% reduction in methane to anorectic effect (due to reduced feed intake) and 45% to the specific rumen activity effect. and natural compounds like vitamin A. Further work is also needed on the SF6 technique: rigorous evaluation against the respiration calorimeter. Hegarty (1999b) found that methane production per gram of live weight gain was reduced significantly when animals were shifted from low digestible pasture to high digestible pasture. Defaunation results in reduced methane production due ¨ to (1) reduced fiber digestion (Machmuller et al. no protozoa will establish (Ivan et al. The results of in vivo trials are quite variable and the response may be subject to strong dietary effect. confirmation of the proportion of methane that is excreted in the flatus. (1997) claimed that maximum methane inhibition by 123 . 2003). Newbold et al. In vitro study by Fuller and Johnson (1981) indicated that monensin and lasalocid additions to the high grain substrate reduced CH4 loss to as little as 53% of that in the control Callaway et al. non-protein amino acids and ecdysones. 1986). defaunation of cattle fed a high concentrate diet decreased methane production by approx. The other methods have too high an error to be able to detect the small differences that are important in inventory. If newborns are reared in isolation from other ruminants. the method of choice for grazing animals is the sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) tracer technique developed by Johnson et al. This also limits the use of the above discussed option. daily (or annual) methane emission by the individual will increase although methane cost of production (methane/kg of beef or milk) will decrease. 2000). dioctylsodium sulfosuccinate and detergents. in some studies. (2) reduced methanogen population associated with protozoa ¨ (Machmuller et al. third. However. they inhibit the release of H2 from formate (Van Nevel and Demeyer 1979). Monensin and lasolasid are two ionophores which have been extensively used to manipulate ruminal fermentation. milk fat). they selectively reduce acetate production (Slyter 1979). (1999) showed that methane production decreased by 61% in defaunated rumen fluid. (1994a). regulatory or animal science research. Machmuller et al. (3) reduced hydrogen transfer (Finlay and Fenchel 1993). 50% (Kreuzer et al. Defaunation techniques used in research have been reviewed by Hegarty (1999a). and (4) increased partial pressure of oxygen on the rumen (Eckard 2001). 1984). they increase feed conversion efficiency (Goodrich et al. b) calculated that 9–25% of methanogenesis is due to methanogens living in a symbiotic relationship with protozoa. To implement mitigation procedures under field conditions. Furthermore. the practices for producing high quality forages have not been tested under field conditions.

(2006) calculated that finishing animals on the copra meal containing coconut oil would require a longer time to reach a common carcass weight and would lessen the effects on total CH4 emissions. 2000). fumarate) are potential precursors of propionate which stimulate H2 utilization for reduction of fumarate to succinate during propionate synthesis at the expense of enteric methane. the use of ionophores in grazing ruminant has not been assessed. they are expensive chemicals. some scientists reported that fumaric acid was not effective in reducing CH4 losses in vivo (McGinn et al. In vitro studies conducted by Mohammed et al. Second. Fatty acid toxicity to methanogens is the direct mechanism. 1998). there is increasingly consumer resistance to the routine use of ionophores as they are a type of antibiotics. From 1 January 2006. 2003) and ¨ about 25% in vivo (Machmuller et al. and linseed oil. Inhibitors and analogues Targeted inhibitors have strong negative effect on methanogenesis. In vivo studies also demonstrated the potential effects of dicarboxylic acids on methane output (Bayaru et al. fats and oils can have many negative effects on the animals. The detrimental effects of certain oils on rumen ¨ protozoa were reported by Machmuller et al.5% or 7%. which ultimately result in methane reduction. McGinn et al. as evident from in vitro trial in which the efficiency was only 4. (2004) reported that oil addition reduced fiber digestibility significantly. The following constraints are associated with the use of dicarboxylic acids. First. Secondly. (2005) observed increased milk production using different vegetable oils. (2004) observed a lower acetate concentrations. they are not suitable for grazing animals as they have to be fed daily. higher propionate concentrations and lower acetate-topropionate ratio when sunflower oil was added to the diets of cattle. Machmuller et al. (1998) and as a result methane production was reduced. Direct toxic effects of unsaturated fatty acids have also been demonstrated (Henderson ¨ 1973). In contrasts. McGinn et al. McCaughey et al. increased productivity and enhanced propionate production. The efficiency of different ¨ oils is also different. (2004) demonstrated that addition of fumarate increased propionate production and reduced methane output. 3. Indirect effects of oils. Dicarboxylic acids Addition of oils to ruminant diets may decrease methane emission by up to 80% in vitro (Fievez et al. (2004) reported that loss of gross energy (GE) to methane decreased 9% using monensin. 2004). However. have been reported by many workers. Machmuller Dicarboxylic organic acids (malate. 1994b. 1978). Omer (2004) found that rumen microbes adapted ionophores within 45 days. Bromochloromethane appeared to be a potent methane inhibitors (Van Nevel and Demeyer 123 . their efficiency is reduced when concentrates are fed. McGinn et al. (1966) reported the suppressive effect of long chain unsaturated fatty acids on methanogenesis and demonstrated the competition between methanogenesis and biohydrogenation process. Chloroform. Cattle studies have shown that ionophore-induced suppression of enteric CH4 production is short lived (Johnson et al. The indirect mechanism includes protozoal inhibition. the number of rumen protozoa was reduced by 88–97% ¨ (Machmuller et al. Van Nevel and Demeyer (1996) reviewed data from in vitro trials and found that percentage inhibition showed a wide range (0–76%). The effects of different oils on ruminal methane fer¨ mentation are related to diet composition.8% (Carro and Ranilla 2003). Oils et al. Third. Czerkawski et al. the methane-suppressing effect of monensin is not maintained for repeated applications (Omer 2004). probably by changing their metabolic activity and composition. reduction of double bonds in unsaturated fatty acids. had been prohibited in EU. but prolonged feeding led to liver damage (Lanigan et al. Malate has a similar effect (Jalc and Ceresnakova 2002). Chiquette and Benchaar (2005) showed that essential oils reduced methane production by up to 46%. (2004) reported a 22% decrease in methane emissions by addition of sunflower oil to the diet of cattle. High cost and the negative effect on milk fat concentration (Zheng et al. the only EU-approved antibiotic growth promoter for use in beef cattle. Zheng et al. 1997). Machmuller et al. monensin. In one study monensin added at 24 ppm in the diet of dairy cows decreased CH4 by 28% (Kinsman et al. Mathers and Miller (1982) found significant reduction in methane production by chloral hydrate. (2000) found a high efficacy of coconut oil against methane release in the intensive type diet (lower structural carbohydrate content) as compared to extensive diet (high structural carbohydrate content).2750 World J Microbiol Biotechnol (2008) 24:2747–2755 monensin was 18% in vitro. inhibits methanogenesis through inhibition of methyl-CoM reductase (Gunsalus and Wolfe 1978) but is obviously not suitable for field application. Addition of unsaponied fats or oils to the diets of ruminants suppresses methane production by two mechanisms. 2001). 2005) are other constraints of oil addition. (1998) identified coconut oil as more effective inhibitor than rape seed. sunflower seed. McGinn et al. (2003) suggested that coconut oil directly inhibited rumen methanogens. 1997). a chlorinated methane analogue. However. When canola oil was added in the diets of sheep at 0%. Furthermore. Jordan et al.

In a review of in vitro studies. However. As a result of increased productivity. independent of liveweight and average daily gain and this variation provides a basis for genetic selection for feed-use efficiency of cattle (Arthur et al.000 500 600 700 a 1996. Some available products guarantee high numbers of live yeast cells and are sold as live yeast while other products are sold as yeast cultures containing both yeast cells and the media on which they are grown. and (4) by improving animal productivity (Bruno et al.0232) 6. 1996). 2003).0175) 113 (0.0278) 310 days of lactation combined with a 55 day dry period Large variations exist (±40) in methane emissions between animals at the same level of performance and diet. Wallace and Newbold (1993) found that probiotics improved productivity by 7– 8% resulting in reduced methane production per unit of product (milk or meat) in dairy cows and growing cattle. microbial activity.02) 108 (0. decreased fiber digestion and toxicity to the animal are drawbacks of these inhibitors. Goopy and Hegarty (2004) identified some steers as ‘high’ and ‘low’ emitters on identical feed and feed intakes. (3) by promoting acetogenesis (Chaucheyras et al. However. Mwenya et al.6% in steers using a compound containing BCM. Although not yet clear.0238) 103 (0. Recent studies have shown that p-aminobenzoic acid (pABA) derivatives bearing n-propyl. Results with an artificial rumen indicated that none of these RFA-P inhibitors affect bacterial metabolism adversely (Dumitru et al. On the other hand. as shown by lines of cattle divergently selected for RFI (Arthur et al. Microbial adaptation.16 for a 600 kg cow.000 105 (0.0258) 111 (0. Microbe level Future options Animal level Probiotics Genetic selection of animals Animal production efficiency can be increased by selection of animals with improved genetic merit (the ratio of an animal’s performance with the group average). indicating the potency of compound. Work has not been done to determine whether these differences are related to intake behavior. Cattle that eat less than their peers of equivalent liveweight and average daily gain have a low residual feed intake (RFI) and are more feedefficient. So selection for reduced RFI will lead to substantial and lasting methane abatement. 2003). A further increase to 6. Genetic variation in feed intake also exists. Van Nevel and Demeyer 1996). 1995). much more work needs to be done before their commercial use.000 100 (0. fermentation conditions and grazing behavior. methane production per unit of milk or meat will decrease.0216) 116 (0. The most widely used probiotics are yeast and Aspergillus oryzae. 1974.000 to 5. a key cofactor required for methane formation.128 (Table 1). Tomkins and Hunter (2003) reported that loss of GE to methane decreased from 3. Kirchgessner et al. (2004) reported that sheep produced significantly less methane when 0. 1997). 1998).0202) 95 (0. 2004). 5. 1995) Body weight (kg) Milk yield (kg/year)a 4. (2004) reported that reduction in methane 123 . (1995) suggested that increasing milk production of dairy cows from 4. Probiotics are microbial feed additives that influence rumen fermentation directly resulting in improved animal productivity.000 kg/cow/year increases annual methane emissions but will decrease emissions per kg of milk by 0. The assumed factors responsible for such differences are the rate of passage. 2-Bromoethanesulfonate (BES). it is assumed that yeast cultures reduce methane production in four ways: (1) by increasing butyrate or propionate production (Lila et al. a bromine analogue of coenzyme M involved in methyl group transfer during methanogenesis. isopropyl and isobutyryl nitrogen substituents strongly inhibit RFA-P synthase (Dumitru et al. RFA-P synthase catalyzes the first step in the synthesis of tetrahydromethanopterin. McGinn et al. the combination of bromochloromethane (BCM) and a-cyclodextrin reduced methane emissions for 28 days in cattle. 2005). or to potential anatomical and physiological differences in the gastrointestinal tract of cattle or the heritability of this trait. Mathison et al. (2) by reducing protozoan numbers (Newbold et al.9% to 0. The degree of variability suggests that breeding animals with low methane emissions but uncompromised performance would be a helpful way for methane mitigation in future. 1998) but its effect on ruminal methanogenesis was transient (Sawyer et al. In trials with Friesian Jersey crossbred herds.0183) 121 (0.000 kg/year would decrease emissions per kg of milk by a further 0. 2001). is a potentially strong inhibitor of methane production but unfortunately its effects only lasted 3 days in sheep (Dong et al.World J Microbiol Biotechnol (2008) 24:2747–2755 2751 Table 1 Estimates of methane emissions (kg/year and kg/kg milk in parentheses) from dairy cows as effected by annual milk yield and body weight (Kirchgessner et al.4% yeast culture was included in a basal hay and 30% concentrate diet. significant variation was found between cows for this phenotype (PGgRC 2004).

Plant level There are some studies about the effects of plants and plant extracts on methane production both in vitro and in vivo. 2001). The effects of S. as there are multiple strains of Archaea in the rumen. If this proves successful. This may be possible through hexose partitioning. Beever (1993) suggested that hydrogen production and methanogenesis could be altered by increasing the quantity of microbial cells leaving the rumen per unit of carbohydrate consumed. In their study.234 decreased methane production (l kg-1 rumen degradable OM) by 27. Studies have also shown that methane suppression effects of proboitics are not consistent (Newbold et al. (2005) reported that methane production expressed as both.7% reduction in methane production per kg DM intake after revaccination. have encouraging results as a prebiotic in cattle nutrition. The use of 15N in vitro was shown to be a suitable marker of microbial growth for diets with a high proportion of concentrate. cerevisiae for their effects in the rumen.2752 World J Microbiol Biotechnol (2008) 24:2747–2755 was small and not statistically significant. b). White clover results in reduced methane production per unit feed intake by upto 20% (PGgRC 2004). Nevertheless. they may only be suitable for dairy and intensive beef systems. Prebiotics Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary supplements which enhance the beneficial intestinal organisms. These effects of legumes on methane production are generally attributed to increased dry matter intakes. They found that methane production was significantly and negatively correlated to the water soluble carbohydrate content as a proportion of the neutral-detergent fiber content of the diet. quantity per day or relative to DMI. Hexose partitioning alters the pattern of methanogenesis by changes in the diet. Shu et al. It is anticipated that vaccination could reduce CH4 output up to 70%. (2004) reported that methane production reduced by 10% in sheep fed basal hay and 30% concentrate diet supplemented with 20 g GOS. research at Dexel indicated that at least some of the measured decrease in methane production is the result of direct effect of condensed tannins in legumes forages (such as sullah and 123 . Formulating diets with increasing water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) to cell wall (NDF) ratio will decrease methane production because the partitioning of hexose into fermentation end-products (including methane) and microbial biomass in the rumen (in vivo) is influenced by the dietary carbohydrate source as observed in vitro (Moss and Newbold 2000). It might however be argued that short term incubations are inappropriate to study the effects of yeast on rumen fermentation. was lower for Sericea lespendeza than for crabgrass/tall fescue (7. This will indirectly affect the activity of rumen methanogens as they have a commensal relationship with rumen protozoa. the vaccination would be a valuable tool for methane reductions as it could be applied to a whole ruminant population. Rumen-simulating fermentors provide a suitable tool to study the longer term effects of additives on ruminal fermentation and can be used to screen strains of S. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). 10. However.9 vs. In contrast. 1995a. Wright et al. non-digestible carbohydrates in nonruminants. Nutrient level Hexose partitioning Methanogenesis is an important sink for hydrogen. There is a need to identify the dietary and management situation in which probiotics can give consistent results. Their results showed that increasing the proportion of WSC in the ration from 0. further experimental research is required to confirm the influence of diet on hexose partitioning and to investigate carbohydrate sources that provide improved hexose partitioning. Puchala et al. (2003) found that 2% supplementation of orchardgrass silage or mixed orchard grass/alfalfa silage diets did not reduce methane output.7%. 16. 1997). (2004) found a non-significant reduction of 6% in the sheep after 4 weeks of vaccination with three methanogen mixtures and a significant 7.2 g/kg DMI). further research is needed to confirm their effects and to understand mode of their action.6 g/day and 6.4 vs. cerevisiae are mediated through an effect on the numbers and activity of microbes in the rumen (Newbold 2003) and periods longer that 24–48 h may be required to fully realise the effects of the yeast. (1999) demonstrated the reduction in the numbers of Streptococcus bovis in the presence of antiprotozoal antiserum. The scientists also found significant reduction in methane production in vivo (Moss et al. Since probiotics are fed daily. The development of an antimethanogenic vaccine is also in progress. However. Scientists in Australia have claimed to invoke an immune response to rumen protozoa by administering an immunogenic preparation (Baker et al.089 to 0. Santoso et al. Much more work is needed to make this technique effective. However. which manipulate the amount of feed carbohydrate going directly into microbial growth as opposed to fermentation (Meeks and Bates 1999). Immunization One possible future pathway to reduce CH4 output is to immunize animals against their own methanogens and protozoa. Mwenya et al.

Gnanasampanthan G. (2005) noted a 79% decrease in protozoan counts and 26% decline in in vitro methane release. increased grain feeding. Teferedegne et al. Xu G. Hill NS. Kanda S. Wright J. 123 . Pomar C. rumen fermentation. so the current approaches which offer abatement in enteric methane production include improved-nutrition strategies and rumen modification strategies. pp 535–542 Benchaar C. Chiquette J (2001) Evaluation of diet strategies to reduce methane production in ruminants: a modeling approach. Integrated research investigating animal.1079/BJN2003935 Chaucheyras F. 30530560) for support. Gouet P (1995) In-vitro H2 utilisation by a ruminal acetogenic bacterium cultivated alone or in association with an Archea methanogen is stimulated by a probiotic strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These. severe reductions in methane emissions in sheep and dairy cows grazing kikuya grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) have also been reported (Ulyatt et al. Andoh S. 2002). it is a necessity to focus on new approaches to reduce methane emissions.1079/BJN19660035 Conclusion Since methane conversion efficiency depends on feed quality and efficiency of the rumen. Rutigliano HM.World J Microbiol Biotechnol (2008) 24:2747–2755 2753 birdsfoot trefoil) on rumen fermentation (Woodward 2003). dicarboxylic acid supplementation. Santos JEP (2005) Effect of feeding a Saccharomyces Cerevisiae yeast culture on lactation performance of dairy cows under heat stress in ruminant nutrition. but the estimation of time required must be realistic. Alfalfa contains from 2% to 8% malate in its dry matter (Callaway et al. linoleic and linolenic acids by sheep with reference to their effects on methane production. At the animal level. J Dairy Sci 88(Suppl):306 Czerkawski JW. The use of other currently available strategies (e. Dibley K. Hess et al. Using higher doses of tea saponin (8 mg). Patent application: international publication number WO 97/00086 Bayaru E. At the microbe level. are not suitable to low cost production industry because of their high cost. J Anim Sci 85: Proquest Biology Journals. Nishida T et al (2001) Effect of fumaric acid on methane production. Bertin G. Appl Environ Microbiol 61:3466–3467 Chiquette J. will mitigate methane emissions without any hazard to animal or environment. such research will be expensive and long term. Hoskinson RM (1997) Immunogenic preparation and method for improving the productivity of ruminant animals. Under some conditions. However. J Dairy Sci 80:1651–1655 Carro MD. In Ruminant nutrition: feed additives and feedstuffs. genetic selection is the area of research with the best chance of finding a solution. ionophores. Robinson PH. Many of these strategies e. vaccination and probiotics are the promising approaches for future research. In: Proceedings of the XV11 international grassland congress. References Arthur PF. feed efficiency and other postweaning traits in Angus cattle. Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. Can J Anim Sci 81:563–574 Bruno RGS. Improvement and breeding of plants is another helpful way to control of methanogenesis. Thus. a limited number of studies have investigated the direct and indirect effects of plants on methane production in animals. Wampler JL. However. Herd RM. New Zealand. but its efficiency needs to be verified in vitro as well as in vivo. Br J Nutr 20:349–362. Richardson EC (1996) Net feed conversion efficiency and its relationship with other traits in beef cattle. Proc Aust Soci Anim Prod 21:107–110 Arthur PF. Hexose portioning in the rumen is an interesting concept. Cerri RLA. Ranilla MJ (2003) Influence of different concentrations of disodium fumarate on methane production and fermentation of concentrate feeds by rumen micro-organisms in vitro. selection and breeding of forages for the above discussed characteristics in combination with investigation of unidentified methane inhibitors is a promising way for the future. Wainman FW (1966) The metabolism of oleic. J Anim Sci 79:2805–2811 Baker SK. Anim Sci J 72:139–146 Beauchemin KA. Addition of ionophores and halogenated methane analogues to ruminant diet offers the opportunity to reduce methane production in feed lot cattle but rumen microbes can adapt to them. Fonty G. but fiber digestibility is also reduced significantly. Parnell P (2001) Genetic and phenotypic variance and covariance components for feed intake. doi:10. (2004) reported that in vitro methane production decreased when Calliandra tannins supplemented a tropical grass substrate. inhibitors and analogues) is not a permanent solution of ruminant methane due to microbial adaptation.g. Johnston DJ. Purser DB. This indicates the presence of yet unidentified suppressing compounds. Thus. Kamada T. 1997) which deprives methanogens of hydrogen. Herd RM. J Anim Sci 83:653–661 Beever DE (1993) Ruminant animal production from forages: present position and future opportunities. feed additives and Feedstuffs. and it is difficult to provide a comprehensive assessment at this stage about the size of decrease that might be realistically expected in vivo. Archer JA. SIR Publishing. Benchaar C (2005) Effects of different dose levels of essential oils compounds on in vitro methane production by mixed ruminal bacteria. Hu et al. doi:10. plant.g. McGinn SM (2005) Methane emissions from feedlot cattle fed barley or corn diets. 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