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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

Menu Logo Principal AgroParisTech Université Paris-Saclay


GABI : Génétique Animale et Biologie IntégrativeUnité Mixte de Recherche INRA - AgroParisTech

Validation of a method for the non-invasive measurement of methan production by cattle

Method for the non-invasive measurement of methan production by cattle
The Greenfeed device was tested on 124 charolais heifers during 8 weeks. During this period a total of over 200 random 3-4 min measurements were made on each heifer. Even though each measurement lacks precision, the average value of 50 measurements (therefore on 10 to 15 days) presented a high repeatability, opening up prospects for wider scale measurements.

Context and stakes

France is committed to reducing by 40% green house gas emissions (GHG) by 2030 as compared to levels reported in 1990. Like all areas of activity, cattle breeding for milk or meat production should contribute to this reduction since its carbon footprint currently represents 8% of the national level. Enteric methane emissions represent the main GHG emissions (56%) in cattle farming and since methane has a relatively short lifespan, the main priority is naturally to reduce the enteric methane emissions by cattle. In addition to finding solutions in feed, research on animals that genetically emit less gas is being explored. To do this, it is necessary to have a tool that measures enteric methane emissions in a reference population that is big enough to characterize the genetic variability and find molecular markers for the different emissions.


Apart from the breathing chambers and the use of the SF6 gas tracer, which are both techniques that cannot be used on a large number of animals, the GreenFeed system, developed by the American company C-Lock, measures the flow of enteric methane emitted by cattle in a random way during 3-4 minutes, when the animals ingest a little concentrate delivered by this system. Since the enteric methane emissions vary depending on the time of day and the quantity of feed ingested, the average of these random measurements must be calculated on a high enough level in order to be precise.
This system was used to measure the enteric methane emission of 124 charolais heifers during 8 weeks. With an average 3.7 random measures per day, we showed that after 4 weeks, meaning a hundred random measures, a repeatability of 0.77 was obtained for the average measurement, the same level of what is obtained for an individual measurement. Such precision may be obtained with only approximately fifty random measurements with a well-adapted ration and well-controlled ingestion. 


These results show that the GreenFeed system may be used to measure the individual enteric methane emission differences as long as 50 minimum random measures are made. This system is particularly well-adapted to beef cattle farming. It may be set up in testing stations for young cattle not only when constituting a genetic reference population but also when estimating the relation between feed efficiency and methane emissions.


Renand G., Maupetit D., 2016. Assessing individual differences in enteric methane emission among beef heifers using the GreenFeed Emission Monitoring system: effect of the length of testing period on precision. Animal Production Science, 56, 218-223.