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Test around the effect of the feed strategy on manure quality, emissions

09 December 2020

The formation of greenhouse gases (GHG) on cattle farms is strongly related to the food management on a farm.

In the practice stable on the Dairy Campus at Wageningen University & Research, a study was started this autumn, to see to what extent exchanging grass silage with silage maize has an effect on the methane emission of dairy cows. And what the effect of this feed strategy has on the quality of the slurry and the associated methane emissions.

Exchanging grass silage with silage maize is already a known effective feeding strategy to reduce the methane emissions of dairy cows. On the other hand, we do not know to what extent this feed strategy has an effect on the quality of slurry and the associated emissions, in particular methane. In this study, a link is therefore made between feed strategy, manure quality and emissions from both cow and manure emissions.

This research in the emission stable on Dairy Campus is part of the KennisOnline research project CEDERS, which is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. Researchers from Wageningen Livestock Research, departments of animal nutrition and livestock farming & the environment, are trying to create more clarity in this project about the effect of food management on the methane emissions from dairy cows and slurry. Although the quality of the manure and the associated emissions (methane and nitrous oxide) can be estimated on the basis of feed intake and digestibility of nutrients, it is currently unclear to what extent we actually implement the quality of manure and the associated emissions through feed strategies to influence.

Emission stable research at Dairy Campus

In the period from October 2019 to January 2020, two measurement rounds will take place in the special emission stable in Leeuwarden. The study consists of two test treatments. The difference is in the dished ration of the 64 cows, which are housed in four different units in the barn.

Both rations are fed as TMR to the feed fence and consist of 50% concentrates and 50% roughage (on a dry matter basis). In the grass silage ration, the roughage consists entirely of grass silage and in the silage maize ration, the roughage consists of 20% grass silage and 80% silage maize (on a dry matter basis). During round 1, two groups of 16 cows each receive the silage ration and the other two groups of 16 cows each receive the silage maize ration. This will be exchanged in the second measurement round.

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