Reducing the carbon footprint of Australian milk production by mitigation of enteric methane emissions Academic Article uri icon


  • This review examines research aimed at reducing enteric methane emissions from the Australian dairy industry. Calorimeter measurements of 220 forage-fed cows indicate an average methane yield of 21.1 g methane (CH4)/kg dry matter intake. Adoption of this empirical methane yield, rather than the equation currently used in the Australian greenhouse gas inventory, would reduce the methane emissions attributed to the Australian dairy industry by ~10%. Research also indicates that dietary lipid supplements and feeding high amounts of wheat substantially reduce methane emissions. It is estimated that, in 1980, the Australian dairy industry produced ~185 000 t of enteric methane and total enteric methane intensity was ~33.6 g CH4/kg milk. In 2010, the estimated production of enteric methane was 182 000 t, but total enteric methane intensity had declined ~40% to 19.9 g CH4/kg milk. This remarkable decline in methane intensity and the resultant improvement in the carbon footprint of Australian milk production was mainly achieved by increased per-cow milk yield, brought about by the on-farm adoption of research findings related to the feeding and breeding of dairy cows. Options currently available to further reduce the carbon footprint of Australian milk production include the feeding of lipid-rich supplements such as cottonseed, brewers grains, cold-pressed canola, hominy meal and grape marc, as well as feeding of higher rates of wheat. Future technologies for further reducing methane emissions include genetic selection of cows for improved feed conversion to milk or low methane intensity, vaccines to reduce ruminal methanogens and chemical inhibitors of methanogenesis.


  • Moate, PJ
  • Deighton, MH
  • Williams, SRO
  • Pryce, JE
  • Hayes, BJ
  • Jacobs, JL
  • Eckard, RJ
  • Hannah, MC
  • Wales, WJ

publication date

  • 2016