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ALA helps cattle methane emissions drop by almost 10%

By René Lötter

In South Africa consumers are not as concerned about the environmental impact of cow burps and farts as those in the EU or the rest of the western world. But the global media has been reporting for some time how about a third of human-caused methane emissions come from livestock. Governments want to tax these emissions and consumers are driving the market against eating meat and dairy.

It’s only a matter of time before African meat producers have to take note. Producing methane emissions is part of the normal digestive processes of cattle.

However, it’s found that some feed additives can inhibit the microorganisms that produce methane in the rumen and so reduce methane emissions. Fats and oils show promise for practical application to cattle farming and have shown significant methane emission reductions. Linseed oil remains the best source of omega-3 fatty acids as it contains lots of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).

A lecture delivered at the AFMA Symposium 2022 (The Future of Protein – Staying Relevant!) on Wednesday focused on increasing the amount of ALA in dairy cow diets to reduce enteric methane emissions while, at the same time improving health and reproduction.

It was delivered by Dr Solveig Mendowski, Research and Innovation Project Manager, Valorex, France (Sponsored by Vitam International) Dr Mendowski first explained how ALA reduces the amount of fermentable OM in the rumen – it directs fermentation toward the production of propionate, which consumes H2.

The figures were obtained by gathering several publications in which ALA is tested as a methane mitigation strategy in dairy cows: 7 publications, 15 treatments, trials in 4 countries: France, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

How much can ALA reduce methane emission? It was found that 200 g of ALA (based on the use of linseed processed under specific conditions of temperature and pressure) in diet decreases methane by 9,84% expressed in g/d and 9,86% as expressed in g/l milk. The number is 8,16% when methane expressed as g/kg DMI.

And, the studies showed other benefits of ALA such as increased recovery from subclinical mastitis and reducing the number of days between calving and the first artificial insemination. See details on how and when the data was collected graph above.

So to conclude: Increasing ALA in dairy cow diets – on average It decreases methane emissions quite significantly: 200 g of ALA allows a reduction of 9,9 % of methane emissions.

It also improves calving performance and better recovery from mastitis.

The AFMA Symposium 2022 theme, The Future of Protein – Staying Relevant!,  is exploring the changing face of consumer preferences and perceptions about the consumption of animal protein.

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