Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 227:329 | Cite as

Potential for Reducing On-Farm Greenhouse Gas and Ammonia Emissions from Dairy Cows with Prolonged Dietary Tannin Additions

  • Benjamin D. DuvalEmail author
  • Matias Aguerre
  • Michel Wattiaux
  • Peter A. Vadas
  • J. Mark Powell


Dairy cows are responsible for significant emissions of enteric methane (CH4) and produce nitrous oxide (N2O) and ammonia (NH3) gas from manure. As an abatement strategy, we explored the effects of long-term condensed tannin (Quebracho and chestnut extracts) addition to dairy cow diets. Previous studies have demonstrated that tannins in cow diets reduce methane and ammonia efflux, but none have done so over a >1-month time period. A modified stanchion barn equipped with gas analysis instrumentation measured CH4, N2O, and NH3 fluxes into and from the barn, at the onset of the experiment, and 45 and 90 days after feeding groups of lactating dairy cows a control diet or two levels of tannin extract at 0.45 and 1.8 % of dietary dry matter. Few statistical differences among treatments were observed, likely a consequence of high variability and low sample size necessary for conducting a study of this duration. However, on a per-cow basis, low and high tannin diets lowered CH4 emissions by 56 g cow−1 day−1 and by 48 g cow day−1, respectively. Diet tannin additions lowered CH4 (33 %), NH3 (23 %), and N2O (70 %) per unit milk corrected emissions in the high tannin treatment compared to the control at the end of the experiment, without significant loss in milk production. These results suggest that relatively low concentrations of diet tannin additions can reduce ruminant CH4 and gaseous N emissions from manure. The tannin effect observed after 90 days is a starting point for considering tannin additions as a potential long-term strategy for improving the environmental footprint of milk production.


Ammonia Condensed tannin Dairy cows Greenhouse gas flux Methane Nitrous oxide 



The farm staff at USDFRC, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin was instrumental to the success of the project. We thank Kris Niemann and Alicia Pelletier for field assistance and barn maintenance.

Supplementary material

11270_2016_2997_MOESM1_ESM.xls (45 kb)
Table S1 Calendar of barn greenhouse gas emissions measurements (XLS 45 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin D. Duval
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Matias Aguerre
    • 2
  • Michel Wattiaux
    • 2
  • Peter A. Vadas
    • 1
  • J. Mark Powell
    • 1
  1. 1.United States Department of AgricultureAgricultural Research Service, US Dairy Forage Research CenterMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Dairy ScienceUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyNew Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologySocorroUSA

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