3 years ago

Impact of breed on the rumen microbial community composition and methane emission of Holstein Friesian and Belgian Blue heifers

Impact of breed on the rumen microbial community composition and methane emission of Holstein Friesian and Belgian Blue heifers
Intensive dairy and beef cattle farming contribute significantly to the emissions of greenhouse gases from Belgian agriculture. Two main breeds dominate the Belgian cattle livestock; Holstein-Friesian (HF) dairy cattle and double-muscled Belgian Blue (DMBB) beef cattle. The aim of our study was to quantify and compare methane emissions of both breeds under conditions of equal diet composition, environment and physiological stage (using heifers of the same age). The methanogen and bacterial communities were thoroughly investigated using metabarcoding to correlate taxonomic compositions with breed and methane emission levels. HF heifers had significantly higher absolute enteric methane emissions as compared to DMBB heifers. Methane production was positively correlated to the dry matter intake (DMI). Due to the significantly higher DMI and energy intake of HF heifers, methane yield per DMI was not significantly different between breeds. Furthermore, no significant differences were observed between the gross feed efficiency (GFE) of both breeds, but the DMBB heifers demonstrated significantly lower CH4:CO2 ratios (mole-to-mole ratio), suggesting a more efficient fermentation by the rumen microbial ecosystem. Although both breeds accommodated a common core of taxonomic groups, the bacterial communities also showed a breed specific composition due to differential abundance of specific species belonging to the main taxonomic groups and the presence of a few species of minor taxonomic groups that were significantly associated with one of both breeds. In contrast to the bacterial communities, the methanogen community was consistent and stable between breeds and at different sampling times. Our results suggest that breed related factors influence the bacterial community composition, while the variation in methane emission levels can be attributed mainly to the feed intake of the animals.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1871141317303372

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