Does Feeding Additives that Reduce Methane Only During Winter-Feeding Have a Meaningful Impact on Methane Emissions in Cow-Calf Systems?

Project Title

Potential for Dietary Mitigation of Enteric Methane During Winter Feeding in Canadian Beef Cows


Stephanie Terry (AAFC Lethbridge)

Karen Beauchemin (AAFC Lethbridge), Trevor Coates (AAFC Lethbridge), Katherine Wood (University of Guelph), Gabriel Ribeiro (University of Saskatchewan), and Gleise M. Silva (University of Alberta)

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in March, 2028 ENV.12.21C


Numerous products have been developed to reduce methane emissions in beef cattle, but the addition of feed additives is most practical in the feedlot. That being said, the biggest source of methane in the cattle industry is the cow calf sector that predominantly grazes forages. Delivery of feed additives is especially challenging due to the extensive nature of most pastures. Even with extended grazing practices increasing, a large portion of the Canadian cow herd spends some portion of the winter receiving supplemental feed. This group wants to determine if provision of feed additives along with that supplemental feed is enough to reduce methane and improve cow efficiency.


  • To quantify and demonstrate the opportunity for introducing dietary methane (CH4) mitigation strategies to the cow-calf sector throughout a winter-feeding program.

What they will do

First the team will look at numerous Canadian feed additives from essential oils to condensed tannins to faba beans and determine if any have the capacity to significantly reduce methane emissions in an artificial rumen.

Secondly, they will test known, commercially available feed additives both in Guelph using a typical Central Canadian based diet and in Lethbridge using a typical Western Canadian based diet both using heifers or cows in a drylot system. Measuring animal intake, methane, body condition, rumen samples, and feed samples will be evaluated.

Finally, they will test the 2 most promising items from the artificial rumen experiment in a feedlot trial with 20 animals per treatment and a control. Greenfeed systems will be used to measure emissions and forage and rumen samples will be collected. They will then use modeling to determine the effects of these dietary mitigations on overall cattle methane emissions and farm level economics.


This study will tell us if applying methane mitigating strategies during the winter feeding period can have an impact on methane emissions in the cow calf sector.