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The effect of a condensed tannin-containing forage on methane emission by goats

R. Puchala, B. R. Min, A. L. Goetsch, and T. Sahlu

Journal of Animal Science 83:182-186. 2005.

The objective of this study was to compare methane emission by goats consuming the condensed tannin-containing forage sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) or a mixture of crabgrass (Digitaria ischaemum) and Kentucky 31 tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). Two groups of 12 Angora does (initial average BW = 41.5 ± 2.7 kg) that previously grazed a pasture of sericea lespedeza or crabgrass/tall fescue for approximately 4 mo were used. After 1 wk of adaptation to metabolism cages, gas exchange was measured for 24 h in an open-circuit respiration calorimetry system with four head boxes. Forage harvested daily from the previously grazed pastures was consumed ad libitum. Crude protein concentration was 10.3 and 13.0%, IVDMD was 64.5 and 75.3%, and the level of condensed tannins was 17.7 and 0.5% for sericea lespedeza and crabgrass/tall fescue, respectively. Dry matter intake (1.11 vs. 0.67 kg/d) and digestible DMI (estimated from IVDMD; 0.71 vs. 0.51 kg/d) were greater (P < 0.01) for sericea lespedeza than for crabgrass/tall fescue. Ruminal ammonia N (3.7 and 9.9 mg/dL; P < 0.001) and plasma urea-N concentrations (16.7 and 20.9 mg/dL; P = 0.07) were lower for sericea lespedeza than for crabgrass/tall fescue. Concentrations of individual and total VFA and the acetate-to-propionate ratio in ruminal fluid did not differ between treatments (P > 0.19). Despite higher DMI by goats fed sericea lespedeza, daily energy expenditure (409 vs. 431 kJ/kg BW0.75), heart rate (70 vs. 73 beats/min), and the ratio of energy expenditure to heart rate (5.82 vs. 5.94) did not differ between sericea lespedeza and crabgrass/tall fescue, respectively (P > 0.13). Methane emission expressed as both quantity per day or relative to DMI was lower (P < 0.001) for sericea lespedeza than for crabgrass/tall fescue (7.4 vs. 10.6 g/d and 6.9 vs. 16.2 g/kg DMI). Substantial differences between the forages in condensed tannins concentration and methane emission by Angora goats suggest that condensed tannins decreased methane emission.


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