Now, cow emissions can be more accurately estimated

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In Pennsylvania, leading the worldwide effort to get a better handle on methane emissions from animals, an international consortium of researchers devised more accurate models to estimate the amount of the potent greenhouse gas produced by dairy cattle. A major research finding is that the revised methane emission conversion factors for specific regions are expected to improve emission estimates in national inventories.

In a large study that involved individual data from more than 5,200 lactating dairy cows, assembled through a collaboration of animal scientists from 15 countries, researchers discovered that methane emissions from dairy cattle can be predicted using simplified models. Because feed dry-matter intake is the key factor for methane production prediction, the new models require readily available feed-related variables.

These more accurate models can be used to develop region-specific enteric – intestinal – methane inventories, explained lead researcher Alex Hristov, professor of dairy nutrition, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.