Abatement of Methane Production from Ruminants: Trends in the Manipulation of Rumen Fermentation

  • Published : 2010.03.01


Methane emitted from ruminant livestock is regarded as a loss of feed energy and also a contributor to global warming. Methane is synthesized in the rumen as one of the hydrogen sink products that are unavoidable for efficient succession of anaerobic microbial fermentation. Various attempts have been made to reduce methane emission, mainly through rumen microbial manipulation, by the use of agents including chemicals, antibiotics and natural products such as oils, fatty acids and plant extracts. A newer approach is the development of vaccines against methanogenic bacteria. While ionophore antibiotics have been widely used due to their efficacy and affordable prices, the use of alternative natural materials is becoming more attractive due to health concerns regarding antibiotics. An important feature of a natural material that constitutes a possible alternative methane inhibitor is that the material does not reduce feed intake or digestibility but does enhance propionate that is the major hydrogen sink alternative to methane. Some implications of these approaches, as well as an introduction to antibiotic-alternative natural materials and novel approaches, are provided.


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