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Open AccessReview

Methane Emissions and the Use of Desmanthus in Beef Cattle Production in Northern Australia

1
Animal Genetics and Nutrition, Veterinary Sciences Discipline, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
2
CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Private Mail Bag Aitkenvale, Australian Tropical Sciences and Innovation Precinct, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
3
College of Medicine and Dentistry, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(8), 542; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080542
Received: 10 May 2019 / Revised: 28 July 2019 / Accepted: 6 August 2019 / Published: 9 August 2019
An in-depth review of Australia’s tropical beef cattle production system is presented with emphasis on the use of Desmanthus, a tropical legume, as a nutritional supplementation strategy for the abatement and mitigation of methane emissions. It also identifies current knowledge gaps in in vivo methane emissions research.
The Australian beef industry is a major contributor to the economy with an estimated annual revenue generation of over seven billion dollars. The tropical state of Queensland accounted for 48% of Australian beef and veal production in 2018. As the third biggest beef exporter in the world, Australia supplies 3% of the world’s beef exports and its agricultural sector accounts for an estimated 13.2% of its total greenhouse gas emissions. About 71% of total agricultural emissions are in the form of methane and nitrous oxide. In this review, an overview of the carbon footprint of the beef cattle production system in northern Australia is presented, with emphasis on the mitigation of greenhouse gases. The review also focuses on the tropical legume, Desmanthus, one of the more promising nutritional supplements for methane abatement and improvement of animal growth performance. Among the review’s findings is the need to select environmentally well-adapted and vigorous tropical legumes containing tannins that can persistently survive under the harsh northern Australian conditions for driving animal performance, improving meat quality and reducing methane emissions. The paper argues that the use of appropriate legumes such as Desmanthus, is a natural and preferred alternative to the use of chemicals for the abatement of methane emanating from tropical beef cattle production systems. It also highlights current gaps in knowledge and new research opportunities for in vivo studies on the impact of Desmanthus on methane emissions of supplemented tropical beef cattle. View Full-Text
Keywords: methane emission; tropical beef cattle; Desmanthus; supplementation; growth performance; ruminant nutrition; legumes methane emission; tropical beef cattle; Desmanthus; supplementation; growth performance; ruminant nutrition; legumes
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Suybeng, B.; Charmley, E.; Gardiner, C.P.; Malau-Aduli, B.S.; Malau-Aduli, A.E.O. Methane Emissions and the Use of Desmanthus in Beef Cattle Production in Northern Australia. Animals 2019, 9, 542.

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