Alternative approaches to predicting methane emissions from dairy cows

J. A. N. Mills, E. Kebreab, C. M. Yates, L. A. Crompton, S. B. Cammell, M. S. Dhanoa, R. E. Agnew, Jim France

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Citations (SciVal)


Previous attempts to apply statistical models, which correlate nutrient intake with methane production, have been of limited value where predictions are obtained for nutrient intakes and diet types outside those used in model construction. Dynamic mechanistic models have proved more suitable for extrapolation, but they remain computationally expensive and are not applied easily in practical situations. The first objective of this research focused on employing conventional techniques to generate statistical models of methane production appropriate to United Kingdom dairy systems. The second objective was to evaluate these models and a model published previously using both United Kingdom and North American data sets. Thirdly, nonlinear models were considered as alternatives to the conventional linear regressions. The United Kingdom calorimetry data used to construct the linear models also were used to develop the three nonlinear alternatives that were all of modified Mitscherlich (monomolecular) form. Of the linear models tested, an equation from the literature proved most reliable across the full range of evaluation data (root mean square prediction error = 21.3%). However, the Mitscherlich models demonstrated the greatest degree of adaptability across diet types and intake level. The most successful model for simulating the independent data was a modified Mitscherlich equation with the steepness parameter set to represent dietary starch-to-ADF ratio (root mean square prediction error = 20.6%). However, when such data were unavailable, simpler Mitscherlich forms relating dry matter or metabolizable energy intake to methane production remained better alternatives relative to their linear counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3141-3150
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • dairy cows
  • methane
  • modeling


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