Several technologies have been tested to reduce enteric methanogenesis, but very few have been successfully used in practical conditions for livestock. Furthermore, the consequences of reduced rumen methane production on animal performance and milk quality are poorly understood. The aim of this work was to investigate the effect of feeding bromochloromethane (BCM), a halogenated aliphatic hydrocarbon with potential antimethanogenic activity, to dairy goats on rumen methane production, fermentation pattern, the abundance of major microbial groups, and on animal performance and milk composition. Eighteen goats were allocated to 2 experimental groups of 9 animals each: treated (BCM+) or not (BCM−) with 0.30 g of BCM/100 kg of body weight per day. The BCM was administered per os in 2 equal doses per day from parturition to 2 wk postweaning (10 wk). After weaning, methane emissions were recorded over 2 consecutive days (d 57 and 58 on treatment) in polycarbonate chambers. On d 59, individual rumen fluid samples were collected for volatile fatty acid (VFA) analysis and quantification of bacterial, protozoal, and archaeal numbers by real-time PCR. On d 69 and 70, daily milk production was recorded and samples were collected for determination of fat, protein, lactose, casein, and total solids concentration by infrared spectrophotometry, and fatty acid composition by gas chromatography. Treatment with BCM reduced methane production by 33% (21.6 vs. 14.4 L/kg of DMI) compared with nontreated animals, although it did not affect the abundance of rumen bacteria, protozoa, and total methanogenic archaea. The observed improvement in the efficiency of digestive processes was accompanied by a 36% increase in milk yield, probably due to the more propionic type of rumen fermentation and an increase in VFA production. The increase in milk yield was not accompanied by any changes in the concentrations or yields of fat, protein, or lactose. Despite the substantial decrease in methane production, only minor changes in milk fatty acid profile were observed, suggesting that ruminal biohydrogenation pathways were not affected. Compounds that influence terminal biochemical pathways for methane production deserve further development for future application in the dairy goat sector.
- fatty acid