Development and validation of a biophysical model of enteric methane emissions from Australian beef feedlots

  • S. K. MuirEmail author
  • D. Chen
  • D. Rowell
  • J. Hill


Feedlot producers face considerable pressure to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and excretion of nitrogen and phosphorus. This paper reports on the development and validation of a biophysical model to predict greenhouse gas emissions from Australian beef feedlots, specifically enteric methane emissions. The developed model was based on the current Australian methodology for greenhouse sources and sinks, with the addition of two recently developed beef cattle specific models. The model was validated using the results of published studies and compared with emissions measured using open path spectroscopy and micrometeorology from two Australian feedlots during two seasons. The best performing equations were Ellis et al. (2007) and Moe and Tyrell (1979) with Lins concordance values and 95% confidence intervals of 0.4509 (0.1018) and 0.3696 (0.1362). Average residuals were 118.6 and 98.2 g/head/day for the two best performing equations. The IPCC Tier II equation demonstrated the lowest average residual 0.6 g/head/day but also the poorest concordance (Pc 0.0657, 95% CI -0.024). This study demonstrates that the current Australian methodology for estimating enteric emissions from feedlot cattle is overestimating emissions.


greenhouse gas beef cattle modeling 


  1. ALFA (The Australian Lot Feeder’;s Association), 2008. Australian Lotfeeders association response to carbon pollution reduction scheme green paper. Public domain submissions to the Federal Government, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  2. Beauchemin, K.A. and McGinn, S.M., 2005. Methane emissions from feedlot cattle fed barley or corn diets. Journal of Animal Science 83:653–661.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Beauchemin, K.A. and McGinn, S.M., 2006. Enteric methane emissions from growing beef cattle as affected by diet and level of intake. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 86:401–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blaxter, K.L. and Clapperton, J.L., 1965. Predicting of the amount of methane produced by ruminants. British Journal of Nutrition 19:511–522.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boadi, D.A., Wittenberg, K.M., Scott, S.L., Burton, D., Buckley, K., Small, J.A. and Ominski, K.H., 2004. Effect of low and high forage diet on enteric and manure pack greenhouse gas emissions from a feedlot. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 84:445–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, D., Bai, M., Denmead, O.T., Griffth, D.W.T., Hill, J., Loh, Z.M., McGinn, S.M., Muir, S., Naylor, T., Phillips, F. and Rowell, D., 2009. Greenhouse gas emissions from Australian beef feedlots. Meat and Livestock Australia, North Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  7. Ellis, J.L., Kebreab, E., Odongo, N.E., Beuchemin, K., McGinn, S., Nkrumah, J.D., Moore, S.S., Christopherson, R. Murdoch, G.K., McBride, B.W., Okine, E.K. and France, J., 2009. Modeling methane production from beef cattle using linear and nonlinear approaches. Journal of Animal Science 87:1334–1345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ellis, J.L., Kebreab, E., Odongo, N.E., McBride, B.W., Okine, E.K. and France, J., 2007. Prediction of methane production from dairy and beef cattle. Journal of Dairy Science 90:3456–3467.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Givens, D.I. and Moss, A.R. (eds.), 1990. UK Tables of Nutritive Value and Chemical Composition of Feedingstuffs. Rowett Research Services Ltd, Aberdeen, UK.Google Scholar
  10. Hegarty, R.S., Goopy, J.P., Herd, R.M. and McCorkell, B., 2007. Cattle selected for lower residual feed intake have reduced daily methane production. Journal of Animal Science 85:1479–1486.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kebreab, E., Johnson, K.A., Archibeque, S.L., Pape, D. and Wirth, T., 2008. Model for estimating enteric methane emissions from United States dairy and feedlot cattle. Journal of Animal Science 86:2738–2748.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lin, L.I., 2000. A note on the concordance correlation coefficient. Biometrics, 56:324–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lovett, D., Lovell, S., Stack, L., Callan, J., Finlay, M., Conolly, J. and O’;Mara, F.P., 2003. Effect of forage/ concentrate ratio and dietary coconut oil level on methane output and performance of finishing beef heifers. Livestock Production Science 84:135–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Miller, D.N. and Berry, E.D., 2005. Cattle feedlot soil moisture and manure content: 1. Impacts on Greenhouse Gases, Odor Compounds, Nitrogen Losses and Dust. Journal of Environmental Quality 34:644–655.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Moe, P.W. and Tyrrell, H.F., 1979. Methane production in dairy cows, Journal of Dairy Science 62:1583–1586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. NGGIC (National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Committee), 2007. Australian Methodology for the estimation of greenhouse gas emissions and sinks 2006. Agriculture, Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  17. Wilkerson, V.A., Casper, D.P. and Mertens, D.R., 1995. The prediction of methane production of Holstein cows by several equations. Journal of Dairy Science 78:2402–2412.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Wageningen Academic Publishers 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, School of Land & EnvironmentUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Resource Management and Geography, School of Land & EnvironmentUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations