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Effects of intraruminal urea-nitrogen infusions on feed intake, nitrogen utilization, and milk yield in dairy cows

Author:
Ahvenjärvi, S., Huhtanen, P.
Source:
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.10 pp. 9004-9015
ISSN:
0022-0302
Subject:
ammonium nitrogen, dairy cows, diet, digestibility, excretion, feces, feed intake, milk, milk protein yield, nitrogen, rumen fermentation, rumen fluids, rumen microorganisms, urea nitrogen, urine
Abstract:
The objective of this study was to determine the effects of supplementation of protein deficient diet with increasing amounts of urea-N on feed intake, milk yield, rumen fermentation, and nutrient digestibility in dairy cows. The hypothesis was that low rumen ammonia-N concentrations provide suboptimal conditions for rumen microbes and these conditions can be alleviated by urea-N that increases rumen ammonia-N concentrations. To evaluate this hypothesis, the diet was formulated slightly deficient with respect to rumen-degradable protein. To supplement the diet with rumen degradable N, 5 levels of urea-N (0, 17, 33, 49, and 66 g/d) were continuously infused into the rumen of 5 dairy cows according to a 5 × 5 Latin square. Increasing levels of urea-N infusion increased N intake and N excretion in urine and feces in a linear manner and tended to increase milk and milk protein yields. Feed intake and fiber digestibility were not affected by urea-N infusion levels. Rumen ammonia-N concentrations remained low (3.5 mg/100 mL) and did not respond to urea-N infusions levels between 0 to 49 g/d, whereas the highest level of urea-N (66 g/d) increased rumen ammonia-N concentration to 5.1 mg/100 mL (quadratic effect). These observations suggested that rumen microbes efficiently captured ammonia-N from rumen fluid until sufficient intracellular ammonia-N concentrations were attained, after which ammonia-N concentrations started to increase in extracellular rumen fluid. In contrast, milk urea-N concentrations increased in a curvilinear manner (cubic effect) from 4.4 to around 6 mg/100 mL for the medium levels of urea-N and then to 7.9 mg/100 mL for the highest level of urea-N infusion. The current results indicated that 18% of supplementary N intake was secreted in milk and 53% in urine. In spite of low rumen ammonia-N concentrations observed for the basal diet, it was estimated that only 43% of supplementary N was captured by rumen microbes. Estimated true digestibility for supplementary N (93%) provided further evidence that urea-N stimulated microbial N synthesis. The current results indicate that rumen ammonia-N concentration was an insensitive indicator of N deficiency at low levels of diet CP, whereas milk urea-N was responsive to diet CP concentrations at all urea-N infusion levels.
Agid:
6114006