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Summaries of Scientific References

 

3) Environmental consequences of grass-based versus confinement-based animal production

DeRamus, H. A., T. C. Clement, D. D. Giampola, and P. C. Dickison. "Methane Emissions of Beef Cattle on Forages: Efficiency of Grazing Management Systems." J Environ Qual 32, no. 1 (2003): 269-77.

Fermentation in the rumen of cattle produces methane (CH4). Methane may play a role in global warming scenarios. The linking of grazing management strategies to more efficient beef production while reducing the CH4 emitted by beef cattle is important. The sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) tracer technique was used to determine the effects of best management practices (BMP) grazing compared with continuous grazing on CH4 production in several Louisiana forages during 1996-1998. Cows and heifers (Bos taurus) grazed common bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.], bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge), and ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) pastures and were wintered on bahiagrass hay with supplements of protein molasses blocks (PMB), cottonseed meal and corn (CSMC), urea and corn (URC), or limited ryegrass grazing (LRG). Daily CH4 emissions were between 89 and 180 g d(-1) for young growing heifers and 165 to 294 g d(-1) for mature Simbrah cows. Heifers on "ad lib" ryegrass in March and April produced only one-tenth the CH4 per kg of gain as heifers on LRG of 1 h. Using BMP significantly reduced the emission of CH4 per unit of animal weight gain. Management-intensive grazing (MIG) is a BMP that offers the potential for more efficient utilization of grazed forage crops via controlled rotational grazing and more efficient conversion of forage into meat and milk. Projected CH4 annual emissions in cows reflect a 22% reduction from BMP when compared with continuous grazing in this study. With the BMP application of MIG, less methane was produced per kilogram of beef gain.

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