Energy balance and diurnal variation in methane production as affected by feeding frequency in Jersey cows in late lactation

J. V. Judy, G. C. Bachman, T. M. Brown-Brandl, S. C. Fernando, K. E. Hales, P. S. Miller, R. R. Stowell, P. J. Kononoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Methane (CH4) production of ruminants typically increases with increased dry matter intake (DMI). However, few studies have observed the effects of feeding multiple times a day and its effects on diurnal variation in CH4 production and energy balance in late-lactation dairy cattle. A study using headbox-style indirect calorimetry and 12 multiparous (225 ± 16.2 d in milk; mean ± SD) lactating Jersey cows was conducted to determine the effects of feeding twice daily on diurnal variation in CH4 production and total energy balance. A crossover design with 14-d periods (10 d of adaption and 4 d of collection) was used to compare 2 treatments. Treatments consisted of either once a day feeding (1×; 100% of feed given at 1000 h) or twice a day feeding (2×; 50% of feed given at 1000 h and the final 50% at 2000 h) with a common diet fed in both treatments. Dry matter intake was not different between treatments, with a mean of 16.9 ± 0.88 kg/d. Once a day feeding tended to have greater milk yield compared with twice a day feeding (21.2 vs. 20.4 ± 1.59 kg/d, respectively). Milk fat and milk protein percentage were not different, with means of 6.18 ± 0.20% and 3.98 ± 0.08%, respectively. Total CH4 production did not differ between treatments, with a mean of 402.1 ± 20.8 L/d. Similarly, CH4 per unit of milk yield and DMI was not different between treatments, with means of 20.5 ± 1.81 and 23.8 ± 1.21 L/kg, respectively. Feeding frequency did not affect diurnal variation of hourly CH4 production, with a mean of 17.1 ± 0.74 L/h. A trend was observed for a treatment × hour interaction. Methane production per hour increased after the second feeding for cattle fed twice versus once daily. Gross energy, digestible energy, metabolizable energy, and balance (milk plus tissue) per kilogram of DMI did not differ by feeding frequency, with means of 4.41 ± 0.01, 3.05 ± 0.03, 2.63 ± 0.03, and 1.32 ± 0.08 Mcal/kg of DM, respectively. Metabolizable energy for maintenance was 146 kcal/kg of metabolic body weight, with an efficiency of converting metabolizable energy to net energy balance (milk plus tissue) of 76%. Nitrogen balance did not differ among treatments, with a mean balance of 17.3 ± 13.0 g/d. Therefore, total CH4 production and energy maintenance were not affected by feeding frequency. However, CH4 was variable throughout the day, and caution should be exercised when collecting CH4 samples at a limited number of time points because this may under- or overestimate total production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10899-10910
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • dairy cow
  • diurnal variation
  • energy
  • methane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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