2022 Journal Club December


Dr. Bill Weiss, The Ohio State University; Dr. Michel Wattiaux, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Episode 58: December Journal Club

Podcast Topic

Joining around the pub at World Dairy Expo to discuss the latest research about environmental factors and the effects it has on specific dairy cattle breeds are Dr. Bill Weiss and Dr. Michel Wattiaux.


Dr. Michel Wattiaux, Dairy Systems Management Professor at the University of Wisconsin led the conversation by introducing the recent publication in the Journal of Dairy Science and authors M.E. Uddinn, O.I. Santana and K.A. Weigel. 2:28

What was the main reasoning behind the research and the treatments selected? Dr. Wattiaux said with help from the entire research team, they wanted to measure and compare methane emissions from two cattle breeds and evaluate the nutritional consequences between various fiber sources and concentrations. 3:55

He noted that another key motivation was an earlier research paper showing that jersey cows may in fact, be more environmentally friendly when compared to environmental impact per unit of cheese yield. 4:30

With breeds, forage levels and various forage sources at a focus, Dr. Wattiaux said they first looked to see if there was any interaction between variable fiber types, level of fiber on methane emissions, cow performance and digestibility. 5:30

He said the research encompassed only first lactation cows, adding the various forage NDF and alfalfa silage corn NDF rations used. 6:45

Given methane is a major contributor to the carbon footprint, Dr. Wattiaux said they first measured and compared methane emissions between the holstein and jersey breeds and then evaluated the green feed system, its specifics and system measurements. 9:45

Dr. Bill Weiss, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University, asked about the production impact the two breeds had from the various diet treatment studies. 16:18

Dr. Wattiaux added there was no variability between the two breeds in terms of production differences. He added that the more cows consume, the more fermentation and, ultimately, the more methane produced. 18:45

But how can we know we are standardizing our comparison between the two breeds? Dr. Bill Weiss then asked that question. 20:10

Dr. Wattiaux mentioned the research paper showed methane emission as the only factor affecting the overall carbon footprint. He added that animal efficiency is ultimately not related to methane production per day but rather an energy law ideally used to make milk. 21:15

Additionally, he mentioned the study showed very little difference in manure composition between the two breeds as well. Emphasizing that media and consumers are focused on methane intensity and the carbon footprint, which ultimately is an extension of digestive system studies. 26:51

Dr. Jeff Elliott, podcast co-host and technical services representative for Balchem, asked how much the industry has improved feed production management in the last 10 years. 28:23

Dr. Wattiaux said when talking about production intensity, yield or even greenhouse gas emission there was a high level of variation. Adding when making an impact on reducing emissions, manure and crop management is just as important as the cow or environmental effects. 32:05

Wrapping up the conversation, Dr. Wattiaux mentioned despite the research showing differences between the jersey and holstein breeds; it emphasized the importance of a forage diet variability and nutritional options for all breeds and their environmental factors.t 42:14

Read the articles here: ​​https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32389… and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34955…

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