The role of seaweed as a potential dietary supplementation for enteric methane mitigation in ruminants: Challenges and opportunities
Seaweeds are macroalgae, which can be of many different morphologies, sizes, colors, and chemical profiles. They include brown, red, and green seaweeds. Brown seaweeds have been more investigated and exploited in comparison to other seaweed types for their use in animal feeding studies due to their large sizes and ease of harvesting. Recent in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that plant secondary compound-containing seaweeds (e.g., halogenated compounds, phlorotannins, etc.) have the potential to mitigate enteric methane (CH4) emissions from ruminants when added to the diets of beef and dairy cattle. Red seaweeds including Asparagopsis spp. are rich in crude protein and halogenated compounds compared to brown and green seaweeds. When halogenated-containing red seaweeds are used as the active ingredient in ruminant diets, bromoform concentration can be used as an indicator of anti-methanogenic properties. Phlorotannin-containing brown seaweed has also the potential to decrease CH4 production. However, numerous studies examined the possible anti-methanogenic effects of marine seaweeds with inconsistent results. This work reviews existing data associated with seaweeds and in vitro and in vivo rumen fermentation, animal performance, and enteric CH4 emissions in ruminants. Increased understanding of the seaweed supplementation related to rumen fermentation and its effect on animal performance and CH4 emissions in ruminants may lead to novel strategies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions while improving animal productivity.