Latest research on methane emissions from dairy and beef cattle is suggesting that cattle which are grazing “high-quality grass” are emitting lower methane.

Speaking at an ABP beef finisher event which took place at the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s (ICBF’s) Tully Research Centre last week, ICBF’s Ciaran McDonnell explained the findings.

McDonnell, who is involved in environmental data analysis with the ICBF told the farmers in attendance: “Some of the results I’ve been seeing is that as the animals come from indoors and out to grass, methane is dropping.

“There’s a lot of talk about feed additives to reduce methane. The best feed additive you can give to a dairy cow or a beef animal is high-quality grazed grass. I’ve seen a massive drop in methane.

“As the animal is getting bigger throughout the summer in calf to beef systems, the methane is very static and that’s good news.”

The ICBF researcher believes the findings will be an essential tool to get accurate data on methane emissions from from Irish dairy and beef systems.

He told farmers that the methane calculation which is currently being used for Irish beef animals and dairy cows “is not correct”, and said “it’s based on European research, not on our system”.

He explained that the research he is conducting at present is not showing the same effect when silage is in the diet and attributed this to fibre but reiterated that high-quality grazed grass needs to be in the diet for the reduction in methane to occur.

ABP farmer visit

McDonnell’s presentation was delivered to a group of beef farmers who are supplying cattle to ABP while they were on a visit to the ICBF Tully Progeny Test Centre on Wednesday, November 16.

The video below includes some of the highlights from the day:

Farmers in attendance heard from ICBF’s Niall Kilrane and Ciaran McDonnell, on topics such as the Commercial Beef Value (CBV) and findings on methane emissions from cattle and methods of reducing these emissions.

Animal nutritionist from Brett Brothers Ltd, Heather Peppard delivered a presentation on factors to consider “within the farm gate” to improve the performance of livestock on the farm.

Liam Carroll from Blackwater Vets, Ballivor, Co. Meath, delivered a presentation on controlling parasites in cattle and showed farmers the damage that liver fluke can do to cattle liver. He had an infected cattle liver and a healthy cattle liver and compared them both.

He also showed farmers the impact of pneumonia on cattle lungs and discussed methods of helping to avoid pneumonia outbreaks in cattle.