DOI: 10.3390/ani13172766 ISSN:

Seasonal Effect of Grass Nutritional Value on Enteric Methane Emission in Islands Pasture Systems

Helder P. B. Nunes, Cristiana S. A. M. Maduro Dias, Carlos M. Vouzela, Alfredo E. S. Borba
  • General Veterinary
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Quantifying entericCH4 from grazing systems is a challenge for all regions of the world, especially when cattle feed mostly on pasture throughout the year, as pasture quality varies with the seasons. In this study, we examine the influence of seasonality on enteric methane emissions in the Azores, considering the most recent IPCC updates, to minimise errors in estimating enteric methane emissions in this region. For this purpose, samples of corn and grass silage, different types of concentrate, and pasture were collected throughout the year, and their nutritional value and digestibility were determined according to standard conventional methods. The estimation of methane production was conducted using the 2006 IPCC Tier 2 methodology, refined in 2019. The results revealed significant differences (p < 0.05) between the chemical composition of winter and summer pastures. However, it was in the autumn that these pastures presented the best nutritional quality. We estimated that the total volume of enteric methane produced in the Azores was 20,341 t CH4, with peak enteric methane emissions (5837 t CH4) reached during the summer. Breeding bulls, beef cows, and heifers are the categories that produce the highest amount of methane per animal. However, if we consider the total number of animals existing in the region, pregnant dairy cows are the category of cattle with the highest emissions of CH4. Thus, considering the current system of cattle production in the region, we can infer that the pastures are better managed during the autumn, which translates into lower emissions of enteric methane into the atmosphere during this season.

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