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Short communication: Evaluation of nitrogen excretion equations from cattle

Johnson, A.C.B., Reed, K.F., Kebreab, E.
Journal of dairy science 2016 v.99 no.9 pp. 7669-7678
ammonia, animal housing, correlation, cows, dairy manure, equations, excretion, feces, greenhouse gas emissions, heifers, manure storage, milk production, models, nitrogen, nitrous oxide, prediction, steers, urine
Nitrogen excretion in dairy manure is a precursor for N2O and NH3 formation in livestock housing, manure storage facilities, and after manure is applied to land. Nitrous oxide is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing N output from dairy production facilities can reduce the amount of anthropogenic N2O entering the atmosphere. The objective of the study was to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of extant prediction models for N excretion in feces and urine using extensive literature data. A total of 45 N excretion equations were evaluated for lactating cows, heifers, and nonlactating cows and steers. These equations were evaluated with 215 treatment means from 69 published studies collected over 20 yr from 1995 to 2015. Two evaluation methods were used: the root mean square prediction error and the concordance correlation coefficient. Equations constructed using a more rigorous development process fared better than older extant equations. Equations for heifers and nonlactating cows had greater error of prediction compared with equations used for lactating cows. This could be due to limited amount of data available for construction and evaluation of the equations. Urinary N equations had greater prediction errors than other forms of excretion, possibly due to high variability in urinary N excretion and challenges in urine collection. Fecal N equations had low error bias and reached an acceptable level of precision and accuracy.