This study quantified methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) production from beef heifers and cows classified for residual feed intake adjusted for off-test backfat thickness (RFIfat) and reared in drylot during cold winter temperatures. Individual performance, daily feed intake, and RFIfat were obtained for 1068 crossbred and purebred yearling heifers (eight trials) as well as 176 crossbred mature cows (six trials) during the winters of 2015–2017 at two locations. A portion of these heifers (147 high RFIfat; 167 low RFIfat) and cows (69 high RFIfat; 70 low RFIfat) was monitored for enteric CH4 and CO2 emissions using the GreenFeed Emissions Monitoring (GEM) system (C-Lock Inc., Rapid City, SD, USA). Low RFIfat cattle consumed less feed [heifers, 7.80 vs. 8.48 kg dry matter (DM) d-1; cows, 11.64 vs. 13.16 kg DM d-1] and emitted less daily CH4 (2.5% for heifers; 3.7% for cows) and CO2 (1.4% for heifers; 3.4% for cows) compared with high RFIfat cattle. However, low RFIfat heifers and cows had higher CH4 (6.2% for heifers; 9.9% for cows) and CO2 yield (7.3% for heifers; 9.8% for cows) per kilogram DM intake compared with their high RFIfat pen mates. The GEM system performed at air temperatures between +20 and -30 °C. Feed intake of heifers and mature cows was differently affected by ambient temperature reduction between +20 and -15 °C and similarly increased their feed intake at temperatures below -15 °C. In conclusion, low RFIfat animals emit less daily enteric CH4 and CO2, due mainly to lower feed consumption at equal body weight, gain, and fatness.
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