Increasing emphasis is being placed on reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced by dairy cattle.

Michigan State University is looking at dietary strategies to accomplish this. In a study presented at the American Dairy Science Association meeting this summer, researchers looked at supplementing lactating diets with coconut oil to see if there is any impact on milk production. Coconut oil, a fat source containing a high proportion of medium-chain fatty acids, is known to reduce methane production in the rumen; however, little is known about the impact of coconut oil on lactational performance, explains Dave Beede, dairy nutritionist at Michigan State University. Levels of coconut oil fed were: 0.0 (control), 1.3 percent, 2.7 percent or 3.3 percent of dry matter. Other dietary components included corn and alfalfa silages, ground dry corn, heat-processed soybean meal, soy hulls, wheat middlings, minerals and vitamins. The control diet contained 16.5 percent crude protein, 34 percent neutral detergent fiber, and 31 percent starch. Results of the study show that supplementing the diet with coconut oil reduced methane emissions per unit of fat-corrected milk yield.

Click here to read abstract 371 presented at ADSA.