14 Tips to cut ammonia emissions in dairy cattle

22-02-2021 | |
Photo: Mark Pasveer
Photo: Mark Pasveer

The reduction of emissions from animal production is becoming increasingly more important. Here are 14 tips for dairy production gathered by the author from experts.

Reduce the crude protein in the ration. In an average ration, dairy farmers feed 16 to 16.5% crude protein, which can be reduced further.

Coordinate protein and energy in the ration (four times more rumen energy than rumen protein is optimal). This yields the highest nitrogen efficiency and the lowest nitrogen emissions.

Offer feed with little rumen degradable protein and plenty of energy, because this is a suitable way to reduce nitrogen excretion.

Offer (by)products with a high level of starch or sugar, such as fodder beets and grains such as crushed wheat, soda grain or potato products.

Increase the level of maize silage (low in protein with a negative degraded protein balance and much starch) in the ration. This improves protein use (by capturing surplus rumen protein and stimulating milk protein production).

Offer good quality roughage and an optimal protein level through an optimal fertilising and mowing routine. Prevent heat generation and mould because this reduces protein quality and feed intake. You may want to use an ensilage agent.

Try to ensilage dryer grass, because this reduces the breakdown of protein through the fermentation process (less soluble protein/ammonia formation) during ensilaging. This yields more intestinal digestible protein and less RCP. Only use dryer grass when you can densify well.

Feed more fresh grass instead of grass silage because fresh grass has lower RCP levels and higher intestinal digestible protein levels than silage, which reduces nitrogen emissions.

Focus on high rumen fermentation with little protein surplus (low RCP) relative to energy in the rumen because this increases the efficiency of microbial protein formation and reduces protein losses.

Aim for fewer young stock because this reduces nitrogen excretion at thefarm level. Intensify calf rearing, so that heifers can calf at a younger age.

Aim for higher production per cow and a longer life span.


Improve cow health (with optimal transition management) because this improves feed efficiency and protein use. Less sickness also improves the animals’ lifespan.

Add additives to manure to limit ammonia emissions.


Add water to slurry when spreading it on fields.


To see full article on Influencing rumen microbes improves nitrogen efficiency

Janet Beekman Freelance journalist