Estimated enteric methane production from cattle and small ruminants fed on diets with tropical legume forages

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J. M. Castro-Montoya
Mizeck Chagunda


With the aim of exploring the effects of tropical legumes on methane emissions, methane production from ruminants fed tropical legumes was estimated using predictive equations based on diet’s nutrient characteristics, dry matter intake (DMI), and digestibility from 258 in vivo studies (1355 treatments) from literature. The dataset was divided into adult and growing cattle, goat, and sheep. Additionally, subsets were created depending on the growth habit of the legume: herb, shrub and tree. Methane was expressed relative to metabolic body weight (MBW), DMI, digestible organic matter intake (DOMI), and milk yield or average daily gain (ADG). Estimated methane for each subset of data and for each unit of expression was regressed on the proportion of legume in the diet. Increasing proportion of legumes decreased methane relative to MBW, DMI and ADG –but not relative to milk yield and DOMI– in cattle. For small ruminants, increasing legume proportion decreased estimated methane relative to MBW, DMI and DOMI (by tendency), but no effects were observed on methane relative to ADG, although these effects were likely underestimated. Herb legumes consistently showed the greater decreases in estimated methane in both cattle and small ruminants, while shrubs showed the smaller effects on methane decrease. These analyses highlight the potential of tropical legumes to decrease methane emissions, with differences between types of legumes, with improved effects were found in combination with grasses and concentrate. Further evidence is needed to affirm undeniable positive effects of legumes on the decrease of emissions relative to final product.

Keywords: intensity emissions; herb legumes; ruminants; methane inhibition

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How to Cite
Castro-Montoya, J. M., & Chagunda, M. (2023). Estimated enteric methane production from cattle and small ruminants fed on diets with tropical legume forages. Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 57. Retrieved from
Animal Science


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