Greenhouse gas, animal performance, and bacterial population structure responses to dietary monensin fed to dairy cows

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Received for publication January 27, 2009. The present study investigated the effects of a feed additive and rumen microbial modifier, monensin sodium (monensin), on selected variables in lactating dairy cows. Monensin fed cows (MON, 600 mg d–1) were compared with untreated control cows (CON, 0 mg d–1) with respect to the effects of monensin on the production of three greenhouse gases (GHG), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2), along with animal performance (dry matter intake; DMI), milk production, milk components, plasma urea nitrogen (PUN), milk urea nitrogen (MUN), and the microbial population structure of fresh feces. Measurements of GHG were collected at Days 14 and 60 in an environmental chamber simulating commercial dairy freestall housing conditions. Milk production and DMI measurements were collected twice daily over the 60-d experimental period; milk components, PUN, and MUN were measured on Days 14 and 60. The microbial population structure of feces from 6 MON and 6 CON cows was examined on three different occasions (Days 14, 30, and 60). Monensin did not affect emissions of methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2). Over a 24-h period, emissions of CH4, N2O, and CO2 decreased in both MON and CON groups. Animal performance and the microbial population structure of the animal fresh waste were also unaffected for MON vs. CON cows.

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