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Evaluating the Effect of Feeding Biochar to Cattle on Methane Production and Diet Digestibility

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  10th International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES X)  .(doi:10.13031/iles.18-148)
Authors:   Tommy M. Winders, M. L. Jolly-Breithaupt, C. B. Freeman, B. M. Mark, G. E. Erickson, A. K. Watson
Keywords:   beef cattle, biochar, methane, nutrition

Abstract. Crossbred steers (n=6, initial BW = 529 kg, SD = 16) were used to evaluate the effect of biochar on methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) production from growing and finishing diets. The 3 treatments were 0 (CON), 0.8, and 3% biochar inclusion and displaced corn in the supplement. Gas production was collected over 23 h and analyzed for CH4 and CO2 concentration. Methane production (g/d) was not impacted (P = 0.25) across treatments while CO2 was reduced (P = 0.07) by 498 and 386 g for 0.8 and 3% treatments respectively compared to CON when fed a growing diet. Carbon dioxide was reduced (P = 0.09) as a proportion of intake across treatments while CH4 was not impacted (P = 0.30) when fed a growing diet. When analyzed as inclusion of biochar (BIO) vs no biochar (CON; combining treatments 0.8 and 3% vs. CON), CH4 (g/d) tended to reduce (P = 0.11) from 109 for CON to 99 for BIO while CH4 as a proportion of intake (g/kg DMI) tended to decrease (P = 0.13) when fed a growing diet. Carbon dioxide (g/d) was reduced (P = 0.02) from 5549 for CON to 5107 for BIO and also reduced (P = 0.03) CO2 as a proportion of intake when fed a growing diet. On the finishing diet, no differences (CH4 or CO2; g/d and g/kg DMI) were detected from differing BIO inclusions or when combined relative to CON. Numerical reductions of 9.9 and 18.4% were observed for methane on a g/d and g/kg DMI basis respectively.

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