Energy partitioning and methane production by sheep fed silages of three commercially available sorghum hybrids (BRS 610, BR 700 and BRS 655) harvested at three maturation stages (milk, soft dough and floury) were evaluated in open circuit respiration chambers. A complete randomized design was used in a 3 × 3 (hybrids × maturity stages) factorial arrangement, and the means were compared by the Student-Newman-Keuls (SNK) test (P<0.05). The intake of dry matter, digestible dry matter, gross energy, digestible energy and metabolizable energy were not affected by maturation stage, but were influenced by hybrid. The net energy intake was influenced by maturity and sorghum genetics. The fecal output represented the main source of energy loss, as percentage of gross energy intake (48% to 52%), followed by heat increment (10% to 19%), methane emissions (4% to 6%) and urine (1% to 2%). There were no differences (P>0.10) among the treatments for the apparent digestibility of gross energy and metabolizability (qm). An interaction (P<0.05) between sorghum hybrid and maturation stages was observed for the efficiency of metabolizable energy utilization for maintenance (km), which ranged between 0.53 and 0.78. No differences (P>0.10) among treatments occurred in the daily methane production. There is substantial genetic diversity within sorghum species, determining different nutritional values. Sorghum genetics and maturity at harvest should not be an opportunity to reduce the contribution of agriculture to methane emissions.
greenhouses gas; nutritional value; net energy; respirometry