Relationship between feed protein content and faeces nitrogen content in early lactation dairy cows

Diana Ruska, Daina Jonkus


Submitted 2020-07-26 | Accepted 2020-09-02 | Available 2020-12-01

The increase of milk production at the farm level requires an accurate balancing of the diet and the nitrogen supply also to minimise the possible environmental pollution deriving from dairy farming. The aim of this study was to evaluate dietary protein utilization at different crude protein (CP) levels and to predict nitrogen content in faeces on the basis of nutritional parameters and milk urea nitrogen content (MUN, mg dL-1). The study was conducted on three groups (A, B, C) of lactating dairy cows (8 cows per group, including Latvian Brown and Holstein Black and White breeds) from 10 to 30 days in milk. Total mixed rations containing different levels of CP (approximately 18.0%, 17.5% and 17.0% for A, B and C, respectively) were fed. The amount of feed consumed by each cow was measured and feed samples collected during the trial. Milk yield (kg d-1-1) and faeces amount were recorded, and samples were collected at day 21 of the study for further analysis. Feed samples were analysed for CP, net energy for lactation (NEL, MJ kg-1) and other parameters. Milk samples were analysed for fat (%), total protein (%), casein (%) and urea content (mg dL-1). The statistical investigation was conducted using ANOVA, and correlation and regression analyses. The results showed that milk yield, fat, total protein, casein, urea, and MUN were not significantly different among groups being not affected by the dietary CP levels. The correlation between faecal nitrogen content and CP content in feed was moderately positive and statistically significant (r=0.44, P=0.03), while the correlation between faecal nitrogen content and MUN was moderately negative and showed tendency towards significance (r=-0.39, P=0.06). The regression analysis showed that feed CP explained approximately 20% of faeces nitrogen content.

Keywords: dairy cow, milk urea, faeces nitrogen, feed crude protein


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