An Overview of Dairy Cattle Models for Predicting Milk Production: Their Evolution, Evaluation and Application for the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) for Livestock

Abstract

The contemporary concern about anthropogenic release of greenhouse gas (GHG) into the environment and the contribution of livestock to this phenomenon have sparked animal scientists’ interest in predicting methane (CH4) emissions by ruminants. Focusing on milk production, we address six basic nutrition models or feeding standards (mostly empirical systems) and five complex nutrition models (mostly mechanistic systems), describe their key characteristics, and highlight their similarities and differences. Four models were selected to predict milk production in lactating dairy cows, and the adequacy of their predictions was measured against the observed milk production from a database that was compiled from 37 published studies from six regions of the world, totalling 173 data points. We concluded that not all models were suitable for predicting predict milk production and that simpler systems might be more resilient to variations in studies and production conditions around the world. Improving the predictability of milk production by mathematical nutrition models is a prerequisite to further development of systems that can effectively and correctly estimate the contribution of ruminants to GHG emissions and their true share of the global warming event.

Citation

Tedeschi, L.O.; Herrero, M.; Thornton, P.K. An Overview of Dairy Cattle Models for Predicting Milk Production: Their Evolution, Evaluation and Application for the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) for Livestock. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Copenhagen, Denmark (2014) 52 + 54 (Appendix) pp.

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