Lactating dairy cows are the greatest livestock contributor of methane, a major global greenhouse gas (GHG). However, good feeding management with adequate mineral intake can offers an effective approach to maintaining high levels of milk production and the health of dairy cows over the entire course of lactation, while also helping to reduce methane emission. The study described here investigated the plasma concentrations of both macroelements (Ca, Na, K, Mg, P) and microelements (Zn, Cu, Fe, Mn), as well as enteric methane emission and milk composition in high-yielding dairy cows in different lactation periods. The experiment was performed on Holstein–Friesian dairy cows with the average milk yield of 41 (± 9) L/day in a Polish commercial farm with modern dairy systems. A total of thirty high-yielding dairy cows were randomly assigned into three groups differing by lactation stage: early stage (Early, days 25–100), middle stage (Middle, days 101–250), and late stage (Late, day 250 and later). Dietary treatment for all cows was a total mixture ration (TMR) with maize and alfalfa silage the main forage components.
The greatest milk yield and methane production were recorded in early-stage lactating cows, but the greatest methane intensity per kg of corrected milk was recorded in the late stage of lactation. Plasma concentrations of macroelements and microelements did not differ by lactation stages, but increased plasma concentrations of Zn and Fe and decreased plasma levels of Mg were noted during lactation. A positive correlation was found between plasma levels of Mg and other macroelements (Ca, Na, K), and between the concentrations of Fe and Zn, P in plasma, but no correlation between methane emission and mineral status was detected in the different lactation stages.
Our results showed different mineral requirements and enteric methane emissions in each lactation stage. The feeding strategy and mineral utilization were adequate to maintain the health, mineral status, and milk production of the Holstein cows during the entire lactation period, and suggest an effective way of reducing methane emission.
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