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Effects of Starch Level and a Mixture of Sunflower and Fish Oils on Nutrient Intake and Digestibility, Rumen Fermentation, and Ruminal Methane Emissions in Dairy Cows

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Methane produced by ruminants contributes to increased greenhouse gas effect. There are various nutritional strategies to reduce methane emission, such as supplementing fat or changing starch levels in the diet. Understanding the interactions of these strategies on methane emission, as well as performance, digestibility, and rumen fermentation is important. The present study aimed to assess the effects of starch level with or without a mixture of sunflower and fish oils on nutrient intake and digestibility, milk yield and composition, rumen fermentation, ruminal CH4 emissions and microbial ecology in dairy cows. Oil mixture rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids supplemented to low- or high-starch diets reduced dry matter intake and increased energy digestibility of lactating cows. High starch level improved nutrient digestibility and tended to reduce ruminal acetate:propionate ratio but did not affect rumen pH, molar propionate ratio, or ruminal CH4 emissions. Oil decreased absolute ruminal CH4 emission or tended to decrease CH4 per energy corrected milk.

ABSTRACT

Four multiparous dairy cows were used in a 4 × 4 Latin square to examine how starch level and oil mixture impact dry matter (DM) intake and digestibility, milk yield and composition, rumen fermentation, ruminal methane (CH4) emissions, and microbial diversity. Experimental treatments comprised high (HS) or low (LS) levels of starch containing 0 or 30 g of a mixture of sunflower and fish oils (2:1 w/w) per kg diet DM (LSO and HSO, respectively). Intake of DM did not differ between cows fed LS and HS diets while oil supplementation reduced DM intake. Dietary treatments did not affect milk and energy corrected milk yields. There was a tendency to have a lower milk fat concentration due to HSO compared with other treatments. Both high starch level and oil supplementation increased digestibility of gross energy. Cows receiving HS diets had higher levels of total rumen VFA while acetate was lower than LS without any differences in rumen pH, or ruminal CH4 emissions. Although dietary oil supplementation had no impact on rumen fermentation, decreased CH4 emissions (g/day and g/kg milk) were observed with a concomitant increase in Anoplodinium-Diplodinium sp. and Epidinium sp. but a decrease in Christensenellaceae, Ruminococcus sp., Methanobrevibacter ruminantium and Mbb. gottschalkii clades.

Citation

Darabighane B, Tapio I, Ventto L, Kairenius P, Stefański T, Leskiene H, Shingfield KJ, Cilkki J, Bayat AR. 2021. Effects of Starch Level and a Mixture of Sunflower and Fish Oils on Nutrient Intake and Digestibility, Rumen Fermentation, and Ruminal Methane Emissions in Dairy Cows. Animals 11(5):1310.