New GHG research on beef cattle

Research into the impact of diet and feed additives on beef cattle emissions is being investigated in a new three-year research project.

Eblex has teamed up with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in Edinburgh to look at how changes to feeding regimes can improve the efficiency and drive of business profitability, while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which is a by-product of rumination they said.

As part of the investigation, steers will be finished on either concentrate-based or forage-based diets. Each will be fed two different feed additives, such as vegetable oils.

The organisations explained: "The role of the rumen microbial population in the responses will be measured, to look at how rumen function changes according to diet, additive and breed. Results will be related to the greenhouse gas emissions and feed efficiency, as well as long-term effects of feed additives."

Meanwhile, Eblex senior livestock analyst Dr Mary Vickers said: "The animals will be moved into specialist chambers for short periods of time where their emissions can be captured.

"In addition, when they are accessing rations from group pens, special plastic hoods over the feeding stations can measure the specific emissions at those times. Measuring emissions, rumen function, feed intake and growth rates can help us build a picture of any effect the additives have.

"The ultimate aim is to ensure the cattle are having their full nutritional needs met in an efficient, cost-effective way while minimising the emissions produced."

In addition to the impact on the environment, carcase quality, meat quality and shelf-life will also be recorded during the investigation. It is hoped that the project will provide producers with independent advice on the efficacy of two feed additives, fed in a range of commercial conditions.

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