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Review

Methane Emissions from Ruminants in Australia: Mitigation Potential and Applicability of Mitigation Strategies

1
John L Black Consulting, Warrimoo, NSW 2774, Australia
2
Livestock Productivity Partnership, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia
3
Ilona Box Consulting, Warrimoo, NSW 2774, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mohammad Ramin
Animals 2021, 11(4), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11040951
Received: 12 March 2021 / Revised: 25 March 2021 / Accepted: 26 March 2021 / Published: 29 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Methane Production in Ruminants, Enteric, and Manure Emissions)
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. It is 80-times more effective at heating the earth than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years following release into the atmosphere. Ruminant animals have diverse microbial populations in their stomachs that employ anaerobic fermentation to digest feed. Methane is belched into the atmosphere as a by-product of the digestive process. This gut, or enteric methane, primarily from cattle, but also sheep and goats, contributes 30% of the methane released into the earth’s atmosphere each day, and is more than any other single methane source. A major reduction in methane emissions from ruminants is crucial to preserve ecosystems on the planet. Various strategies to reduce enteric methane emissions in farm operations are reviewed to quantify their mitigation potential, determine their impact on animal productivity and likelihood of adoption. Two feed supplements, a commercial product, 3-NOP (Bovaer®), and the seaweed, Asparagopsis, can reduce methane emissions by 40+% and 90%, respectively, with associated increases in animal productivity and no adverse effects on animal health or product quality. The rumen microbial population can also be changed to provide long-term intergenerational reduction in methane emissions, if treated herds remain isolated from non-treated animals.
Anthropomorphic greenhouse gases are raising the temperature of the earth and threatening ecosystems. Since 1950 atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased 28%, while methane has increased 70%. Methane, over the first 20 years after release, has 80-times more warming potential as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Enteric methane from microbial fermentation of plant material by ruminants contributes 30% of methane released into the atmosphere, which is more than any other single source. Numerous strategies were reviewed to quantify their methane mitigation potential, their impact on animal productivity and their likelihood of adoption. The supplements, 3-nitrooxypropanol and the seaweed, Asparagopsis, reduced methane emissions by 40+% and 90%, respectively, with increases in animal productivity and small effects on animal health or product quality. Manipulation of the rumen microbial population can potentially provide intergenerational reduction in methane emissions, if treated animals remain isolated. Genetic selection, vaccination, grape marc, nitrate or biochar reduced methane emissions by 10% or less. Best management practices and cattle browsing legumes, Desmanthus or Leucaena species, result in small levels of methane mitigation and improved animal productivity. Feeding large amounts daily of ground wheat reduced methane emissions by around 35% in dairy cows but was not sustained over time. View Full-Text
Keywords: enteric methane; methane mitigation; genetic selection; vaccination; grape marc; nitrate; biochar; 3-nitrooxypropanol; Asparagopsis; rumen microbe manipulation enteric methane; methane mitigation; genetic selection; vaccination; grape marc; nitrate; biochar; 3-nitrooxypropanol; Asparagopsis; rumen microbe manipulation
MDPI and ACS Style

Black, J.L.; Davison, T.M.; Box, I. Methane Emissions from Ruminants in Australia: Mitigation Potential and Applicability of Mitigation Strategies. Animals 2021, 11, 951. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11040951

AMA Style

Black JL, Davison TM, Box I. Methane Emissions from Ruminants in Australia: Mitigation Potential and Applicability of Mitigation Strategies. Animals. 2021; 11(4):951. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11040951

Chicago/Turabian Style

Black, John L., Thomas M. Davison, and Ilona Box. 2021. "Methane Emissions from Ruminants in Australia: Mitigation Potential and Applicability of Mitigation Strategies" Animals 11, no. 4: 951. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11040951

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