The objectives of this study were to quantify the effect of post-weaning residual feed intake (RFI) on subsequent grazed forage intake, methane (CH4), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Beef heifers classified for RFI adjusted for off-test backfat (RFIfat; 55 high and 56 low) at 9 mo of age were monitored 7 mo later for CH4 and CO2 emissions using the GreenFeed Emissions Monitoring system. About 56 of these heifers were also monitored as high and low RFIfat groups using open-path Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (OP-FTIR). Heifers were dosed with 1 kg of C32-labelled pellets once daily for 15 d, with twice daily fecal sampling the last 8 d to determine individual grazed forage intake using the n-alkane method. Low RFIfat pregnant heifers consumed less forage (10.25 vs. 10.81 kg dry matter d−1; P < 0.001), and emitted less daily CH4 (238.7 vs. 250.7 g d−1; P = 0.009) and CO2 (7578 vs. 8041 g d−1; P < 0.001) compared with high RFIfat animals. Results from the OP-FTIR further confirmed that low RFIfat heifers emitted 6.3% less (g d−1; P = 0.006) CH4 compared with their high RFIfat cohorts. Thus, selection for low RFIfat will decrease daily CH4 and CO2 emissions from beef cattle.
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