Potential environmental benefits of ionophores in ruminant diets. Academic Article uri icon


  • A concern of the USEPA is the volatilization of NH3 from animal manure and CH4 produced from ruminal fermentation. Excess N in the environment has been associated with adverse effects on human health, and CH4 and N2O emissions are sources of greenhouse gases. The objectives of this paper are to summarize and quantify the benefits of ionophores, principally monensin, in decreasing NH3 and CH4 emissions to the environment and reducing resource utilization in cattle (Bos spp.) production. The data indicate that monensin in the diets of ruminants may decrease protein degradation in the rumen and may increase feed protein utilization by an average of 3.5 percentage units. These changes would have an effect in reducing N losses and decreasing fecal N and the amount of protein that must be fed to meet animal requirements. Additionally, CH4 is produced by enteric fermentation in ruminants, which is responsible for about 33 to 39% of CH4 emissions from agriculture. Ionophores can reduce CH4 production by 25% and decrease feed intake by 4% without affecting animal performance. The inclusion of monensin in beef and dairy cattle diets may benefit air quality by reducing CH4 and N emissions and water quality by reducing N in manure, which can potentially leave the farm through leaching into ground water and through runoff into surface water.

published proceedings

  • J Environ Qual

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Tedeschi, L. O., Fox, D. G., & Tylutki, T. P.

citation count

  • 128

complete list of authors

  • Tedeschi, Luis Orlindo||Fox, Danny Gene||Tylutki, Thomas Paul

publication date

  • September 2003