Inclusion of lemon leaves and rice straw into compound feed and its effect on nutrient balance, milk yield, and methane emissions in dairy goats

T. Romero, I. Pérez-Baena, T. Larsen, J. Gomis-Tena, J. J. Loor, C. Fernández

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this experiment was to study the effects of incorporating lemon leaves and rice straw into the compound feed of diets for dairy goats. Ten Murciano-Granadina dairy goats (n = 5 per group) in mid-lactation were used in a crossover design experiment (2 treatments across 2 periods). Goats were fed a mixed ration with barley grain (control, CON) or CON plus lemon leaves [189 g/kg of dry matter (DM)] and rice straw (120 g/kg of DM) in place of barley grain (LRS). Soybean oil (19 g/kg of DM) was added to the LRS diet to make it isoenergetic (17 MJ of gross energy/kg of DM) relative to CON. After 14 d on their respective treatments, goats were allocated to individual metabolism cages for another 7 d. Subsequently, feed intake, total fecal and urine output, and milk yield were recorded daily over the first 5 d. During the last 2 d, ruminal fluid and blood samples were collected, along with individual gas exchange measurements recorded by a mobile open-circuit indirect calorimetry system using a head box. No differences in DM intake were detected, and ME intake in LRS was lower than in CON (1,095 vs. 1,180 kJ/kg of metabolic body weight). No differences were observed in milk production, but milk fat content was greater in LRS (6.4%) than in CON (5.6%). Greater concentrations of monounsaturated (14.94 vs. 11.96 g/100 g of milk fat) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (4.53 vs. 4.03 g/100 g of milk fat) were detected in the milk of goats fed LRS compared with CON. Atherogenicity (2.68 vs.1.91) and thrombogenic (4.58 vs. 2.81) indices were lower with LRS compared with CON. Enteric CH4 emission was lower in LRS (24.3 g/d) compared with CON (31.1 g/d), probably due to the greater lipid content and unsaturated fatty acid profile of lemon leaves and the soybean oil added in the LRS diet. Overall, data suggest that incorporating lemon leaves and rice straw into lactating goat diets is effective in reducing CH4 emissions while allowing improvements in milk fat production and milk thrombogenic index without affecting production performance. Thus, their inclusion in compound feeds fed to small ruminants appears warranted and would have multiple positive effects, as on efficiency of nutrient use, human health, and the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6178-6189
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • dairy goat
  • energy
  • lemon leaves
  • methane emission
  • rice straw

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Inclusion of lemon leaves and rice straw into compound feed and its effect on nutrient balance, milk yield, and methane emissions in dairy goats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this