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UREA AS A SUPPLEMENTAL NITROGEN SOURCE

FOR LACTATING COWS


J. D. ERFLE, S. MAHADEVAN, and F. D. SAUER
Animal Research Institute, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Ontario KI A 0C6. Contribution no. 692,
received I9 Aug. I 977, accepted 20 Dec. 1977 .

Enrlu, J. D., MlHeoEvaN, S. AND SAUER, F. D. l9'78. Urea as a supplemental


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nitrogen source for lactating cows. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 58: 77-86.

Fifteen Holstein cows in early lactation were allocated to three groups for a 17-wk
period. During a 4-wk preliminary period, all cows received a soybean meal
concentrate to give a total average ration crude protein of l5Vo. In the next 4 wk,
cows were gradually adapted to zero (ZU),low (LU), and high (HU) urea-containing
rations. Based on total intake, cows consumed rations with 9, 17 and 127o crude
protein. Depressed concentrate intake in the HUgroup due to decreased palatability
limited total crude protein intake of that group to l2Va. Milk yield was not stimulated
by increasing dietary crude protein from 9 to 11 or l2%o wrth urea. The percent milk
persistency was not maintained by urea feeding when compared to persistency in the
previous lactation at which time all cows received a l37a crtde protein diet.
Nitrogen balance for cows rn ZU, LU and HU groups was - I 1.9, I 3.3 and - 3.6
g/day, respectively. The inclusion of urea in the ration increased ruminal NH3-N
(mg/100 m1) from 1.32 for theZU group to 3.94 and 5.78 for the LU and HU
For personal use only.

groups. Rumen microbial numbers (measured by DNA cgncentration) were


decreased in all three groups when intact protein was removed from the ration. The
sum of the plasma concenffations of histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, threonine
and valine were significantly decreased in cows fed the high urea-containing ration.

Quinze vaches Holstein en d6but de lactation ont 6t6 r6parties pendant 17 semaines
en trois groupes de r6gime alimentaire. Dans une p6riode pr6liminaire de 4
semaines, toutes les vaches ont regu une ration concentr6e de tourteau de soja d'une
teneur prot6ique moyenne de l5%a. Au cours des 4 semaines suivantes, on les a
graduellement adapt6es h des rations h teneurs nulle (N), faible (F) et 61ev6e (E) en
ur6e, titrant 9, I I et 127a de prot6ine brute respectivement (d'aprbs les donn6es sur
l'ingestion totale). La diminution de I'ingestion de concentr6 par le groupe E, due ir
une baisse d'app6tibi1it6, a limit6 d l2%o f ingestion totale de prot6ine brute de ce
groupe. Le relbvement de la teneur prot6ique de la ration de 9 b I I ou l27o par
compl6mentation d'ur6e n'a pas stimul6 la production laitibre. La compl6mentation
n'a pas maintenu le taux de persistance productive par rapport b celui de la lactation
pr6c6dente pendant laquelle toutes les vaches avaient regu une ration h teneur
protidique de l3%o. Le bilan azot6 des vaches nourries des rations N, F et E 6tait de
-11.9,13.3 et -3.6 glj respectivement. La compl6mentation b I'ur6e a relevd la
teneur en N ammoniacal du rumen de | .32 h 3 .94 mg/ I 00 ml pour le groupe N et h
5.78 mg/10 ml pour les groupes F et E. Le retrait de prot6ine intacte de la ration a
r6duit la num6ration microbienne du rumen (mesur6e par. la concentration d'ADN)
des vaches des trois groupes. La somme des teneurs plasmatiques en histidine,
isoleucine, leucine, lysine, thr6onine et valine 6tait significativement plus faible
chez les vaches ayant regu la ration E.

It has been shown that milking cows can be but conclusive proof that urea can
maintained on a protein-free urea- adequately replace plant protein in dairy
containing synthetic diet (Virtanen 1970) rations under practical herd management is
Can. J, Anim. Sci,58: 77-86 (Mar. 197t) still lackins. Conflictins results have been
77
78 CANADIAN JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE

obtained by research workers who use urea, (b) if milk production is influenced by
different techniques of
adding urea to different methods of feeding urea, and (c) to
rations. Urea has been used as part of the standardize conditions for obtaining a con-
concentrate (Loosli and Warner 1958; Van sistent, positive lactation response from
Horn et al. 1967), as a supplement mixed feeding urea. if such ex ists.
with extruded starch (Bartley and Deyoe In this study, urea was fed as part of the
1975), as part of a complete ration (Polan et concentrate ration because this is currently
al. 1976), as an additive to corn silage
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the most widely used commercial practice.


(Huber 1975) and as a supplement mixed Although the National Academy of Sci-
with alfalfa meal (Conrad 1975). ences - National Research Council recom-
Urea is of no benefit to the cow unless it mends (NAS-NRC 1976) that not more
is first converted to protein by rumen than 2.jTo urea should be added to concen-
bacteria. It would be expected that rumen trate, in the present trial urea was fed at
bacteria will respond differently to urea 2.9Vo in order to bring the total ration crude
depending on the methods by which urea is protein to l27o. In a second treatment, urea
administered. Much of the confusion as to was added to concentrate at 5.8Vo to
the value of urea in dairy rations may be the ascertain if urea toxicity could become a
result of the different methods that have problem under practical management condi-
been used in feeding urea. tions. Urea feeding was studied in relation
At present, urea is most commonly fed to its effect on milk production, milk
twice daily as part of the dairy ration composition, feed intake, nitrogen balance,
For personal use only.

concentrate. There is no agreement that this rumen function and olasma amino acid
method of feeding urea will elicit a positive concentration.
lactation response (Loosli and Warner
1958; Van Horn et al. 1961). In a recent MATERIALS AND METHODS
report, Bakker and Veen (19'77) did not Animals and Diets
observe a positive lactation response from Fifteen Holstein cows in early lactation (13 wk
postpartum) were grouped in threes according to
the inclusion of 2.2Vo urea in the concen-
calving date and milk production and were
trate of lactating cows. randomly allocated to three groups. Animals
The present investigation is the first in a were individually stanchioned with free access
series of experiments to establish (a) if milk to water. All animals were fed concenffate ration
production can be increased by feeding A (Table 1) (l ke as fed/3 kg milk produced), for

Table L Ration composition

Rationf

Ingredientst L D

Vo
Soybean meal 44.5
Corn grain iA <
89.0 86. I 83.2
Feed urea 2.9 5.8
Trace mineral salt$ 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0
Calcium phosphate (dibasic) 2.O 2.O 2.0 2.0
Sugarcane molasses 7.5 1.5 7.5 '7.5
Calcium carbonate 0.5 05 0.5 0.5
Crude protein (N x 6.25) 26.2 8.'7 16.6 23.8

tVitamin additions (IU/kg): vitamin A, I I x 103; vitamin D, 5.5 x 103; vitamin E, 22.
fRation B is designated zero urea(ZU); ration C low urea (LU); and ration D high urea (HU).
$Trace mineral salt (7o): NaCl, 96.5; zinc, .4; iron, . l6; manganese, . l2; copper, .033; iodine, 0.07; and cobalt,
.004.
ERFLE ET AL.-UREA FOR LACTATING COWS 79

the first 4 wk on experiment, with corn silage in a final volume of 2 ml. Incubations were
(9.28Eo crude protein) provided ad libitum. terminated after 30 min and enzyme activity
During weeks 5 thiough 8 (the adaptation calculated as described (Mahadevan et al. 1976).
period), ration A was gradually replaced (l I 4 per The specific activity of the enzyme is expressed
week) by concentrate B (zero urea, ZU), C (tow as nmoles urea hydrolyzedlhl p,g DNA. Rumen
urea, T U) or D (high urea, HU) (Table l). The microbial cell DNA was extracted from rumen
expenment was continued fbr an additional 9 wk fluid by the procedure described by McAllan and
(17 wk total). Concentrate was fed in two equal Smith (1969) and estimated colorimetrically
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portions twice daily. Concentrate and silage with the diphenylamine method (Burton 1956).
refusals were weighed back daily. The animals
were weighed on 3 consecutive days during the Volatile Fatty Acids
1st, 9th and lzlth wk on the experiment. Animals The VFA content of rumen fluid was determined
were milked twice daily at 0600 and 1500 h. in the supematant of a mixture of 5 ml of rumen
fluid and I ml of a mixture of 88Vo formic and
Sampling 28Vo mataphosphoric acid in a 3:1 ratio. Volatile
Milk samples were taken from morning and fatty acids were separated with a Victoreen gas
evening milkings on 2 consecutive days each chromatograph on a column packed with 207o
week. Individual samples were analyzed for fat, (w/w) Tween 80 and 2Va (w/w) phosphoric acid
protein and lactose by infrared milk analysis. on Chromosorb W (60- to 8O-mesh).
The percent composition was expressed on a Silage dry matter content was determined
weighted basis for each day and averaged for the weekly. Proximate analysis was performed on
2 days.
silage and concentrate. A nitrogen balance study
Weekly jugular vein blood samples (20 ml) of 7 days duration was conducted during weeks
were taken into heparinized-evacuated tubes 3 h
12 (8 cows) and 13 (7 cows). Total feces were
For personal use only.

after the AM concentrate feeding. Whole blood collected and an aliquot taken for N analysis.
was immediately cooled on ice and then Urine was collected via urinary catheters and l7o
centrifuged (5,000 rpm for 15 min). Plasma was aliquot of the daily excretion was used for a
mixed (3 ml) with 207o sulfosalicyclic acid (l composite sample for N analysis. Nitrogen was
ml). centrifuged and the supematani stored at determined by the Kjeldahl procedure.
-75'C until analyzed on a Beckman 121 M
amino acid analyzer with the single column Statistical Analysis
lithium citrate system. Plasma was analyzed for Comparisons were made between three 4-wk
urea by the microdiffusion technique (Conway periods. For milk production and feed intake,
1957). weekly means were an average of daity observa-
Rumen samples were collected weekly by the tions; other variables were recorded weekly.
use of a stomach tube. Rumen fluid (100-200 Period I was the first 4 wk on experiment,
ml) was collected 3-3r lzh after the AM feedins. during which all animals were fed ration A. The
It was filtered through one layer of "Nitex:' data from the adaptation period (wk 5-8) were
nylon screen (mesh openings 656 microns) (B. not analyzed. Period 2 was weeks 8-ll and
and S. H. Thompson Co., Montreal) and the represented the first 4 wk all animals were on
filtrate was used for the assays described below. experimental diets. Period 3 was the last 4 wk on
Ammonia experiment. Initially, all variables were
An analyzed across urea treatments for periods 2
ammonia-specific electrode of the gas
and 3 using period 1 as a covariate. Correction
permeable type (Orion Model 95-10) was used
with a Coming Model 112 digital pH meter for for period 1 was found unnecessary. The results
presented are from an analysis of variance within
NHr+ determination. A 25-ml aliouot of rumen
periods using the mean of 4 weekly observations
fluid was made alkaline wittr O.ZS ml l0 N
per period for each animal (i.e. 5 observations/
NaOH and the mV potential of the sample was
related to a calibration curve prepared with a
treatment). Overall means for periods and
treatments were analyzed by variance analysis of
standard NH+Cl sol ution.
the experiment as a two-factor factorial design.
Urease The test for significance between means was
The reaction mixture for the urease assay made with the Duncan multiple range test at the
contained 100 mM tris-HCl buffer (pH 8.0), 125 57o level of probability unless otherwise indi-
mM rt-urea and 0.5 ml of filtered rumen fluid cated.
80 CANADIAN JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE

Table 2. The effects of ration on milk yield and concentrate and silage intake

Mean :t
Period ZUI LU HU SEM

Milk yield I zz.Je 21.4" 23.0" 22.2.


(kg/day) 2 1 7. 1"r 16.8"f 16.4t 16.7 f
3 13.41 12.41 11.3f 12.4e
Mean + SEM{ 11 .6 16.9 16.8 +1.1I
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Concentrate intake 1 6.07" 6.54" 6.10"


(kg DM/day) 2 4.88u"r 4.44""t 2.94bt 4.14r
3 4.03'r 3. 36i l.17bl 3.069
Mean + SEM 4.86', 4.63" 3. 80b +.263

Silage intake I 11.1 10.0 11.5 10.9


(kg DM/day) 2 10.1 10.4 12.0 10.8
3 9.8 10.1 11.4 10.4
Mean + SEM 10.30 10.2" 11.7b 1.1/

tRation designations are indicated in Table 1.


f SEM is common for Periods and Treatments.
a,b Means within rows without common superscrrpts are significantly different (P < .05)
e,,f,g Means within columns without common subscripts are significantly different (P < 05).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION there was an increase in silage intake (Table


For personal use only.

During the preliminary period (period 1) the ?)


crude protein content of the complete ration The addition of urea to the LU and HU
was 75Vo. During periods 2 and 3, the ZU, rations to increase crude protein to ll-l2%o
LU, and HU groups consumed rations did not result in a stimulation of milk
which contained 9, 11 and l2Vo crude production over that obtained with the 9Vo
protein, respectively. Crude protein intake crude protein negative control diet (Table
of the HU group could not be increased 2). The means of milk production for
above l27o because the concentrate fed to periods were all significantly different. The
this group was less palatable and resulted in decrease from 22.2 to 12.4 kglday in
a decreased intake. It was generally ob- approximately l0 wk on experiment repre-
served that as concentrate intake decreased sents a 45Va decline in production. When

Table 3. The effects of urea supplementation on milk persistency and comparison with percent persistency in the
previous lactationl

Period Lactation ZU+ LU HU

7o of Period 1

hevious 93. s 85. 1 89.0$


Experimental 76.5 77.6 '7r.9

Previous 82.9 5.5


'7 7s. s$
Experimental 59.8 55.9 48.9

Means: Period 2: 82.3*x Means: Previous lactation 83.6xx


Period 3 :66.4 Experimental lactation 65.1

fCows during the previous lacration were all fed a standard dairy cattle corcenir:.ate(l9Ea CP) to production (1 kg/3
kg milk produced) zurd com silage ad libitum.
tEach mean within each t..utrnJnt for previous and experimental lactation periods is derived from the same animals
during the same weeks of lactation.
$Previous lactation data available for four cows only in these groups.
**Means are significantly different at less than 0.5% probability.
ERFLE ET AL.-UREA FOR LACTATINC COWS 81

Table 4 The effects of ration on body weight (BW) and dry matter intake as a percentage of body weight

Mean t
Periodt LU SEM
Body weight I )lf) )t) 541 523.8
(ke) 2 541 530 583 551.1
3 532 )zf 511 544.7
Mean + SEM 529.s 523.3 s66.9 + 18. 15
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DM intake 1 3. 33 3.14 3.34 3.27n


(7o of BW) 2 2.87 2.81 2.60 2.76h
3 2.72 2.59 2.30 2.53b
Mean + SEM 2.9'7 2.84 2.75 + .106

f Body weights were determined during weeks 1, 2 and 1 of periods l, 2 utd 3.


rz,&Means within columns without common superscripts are significantly different (p < .05)
production was expressed for both the significant difference between treatments
previous and the current (experimental) (Table 4). The only significant change was
lactation as a percent persistency (Table 3) between periods, which was anticipated
(i.e. period I production taken as I00Vo for since animals were fed concentrate to
each of the respective 'actations), there was production. Body weight was not signific-
a decrease (P < .00-5) of milk persistency antly changed during the experiment (Table
from 83.6 to 65. l7o as a result of the 4).
experimental diets (Table 3). The 68.2Vo The TDN intake (Table 5) during period
For personal use only.

persistency observed for cows on the low 2 was 1 12 and l07Vo and during period 3
protein (ZU) diet is in good agreement with was ll9 and ll5Vo of calculated require-
the 67Vo persistency Huber and Thomas ments for cows (NAS-NRC 1971) in the
(l9ll) observed for similarly fed cows after LU and HU groups, respectively. From
10 wk on experiment. The persistency of these results it appears that energy intake
84Vo for cows receiving l3Vo CP diet in the did not Iimir milk producrion.
previous lactation (Table 3) is also in The urea fermentation potentials (UFP)
reasonable agreement with the 89Vo ob- of these rations, calculated according to
tained by Huber and Thomas (1971) for Burroughs et al. (1975a,b), are shown in
cows on a diet containing 12.5 and 13.6Vo Table 5. The urea consumed per day by
crude protein. cows in the LU and HU groups is also
The dry matter intake expressed as a given. From these results it was calculated
percentage of body weight did not show a that urea was fed over a ranse of 105-l72vo
Table 5. TDN and urea intake of cows fed experimental rations

Mean
Period LU HU + SEM
TDN intake 1 1t.9 11.4 12.7 12.0e
(kgiday) 2 10.6 10.3 10.3 10.4f
3 9.'7 9.4 9.0 9.4t
Mean + SEM t0.1 t0.4 10.'l +.33
Urea intake I
G/day; 2 14s.8(118.9)1 193.2 (L12.1)
3 110.2(105.0) tr6.s (94.2)
iThenumben rn parenthesis are the urea fermentation potential (UFP) calculated according to Burroughs et al.
(197sb).
e'l Means within columrs without common subscripts are significantly different (p < .05).
82 CANADIAN JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE

Table 6. The effects of urea supplementation on milk fat and protein content

Mean
Protein LU + SEM

I 3.96 3 .86 3.'71 3.86


2 3. 83 3. 80 3.84 3.82
3 3. 65 4.02 3.98 3.89
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Mean:L SEM 3. 8l 3 .89 3.8'7 +.123

70 protein 1 3.24 3.2r 3.31


2 3.01 3.08 3.18 3.09
3 3.04 3.28 1- 40 3.26
+ SEM 3.10 3.19 J. J+ +.078
Mean

of the UFP calculated for the diet consumed vation agrees with that of Huber and
(Table 5). At this level of urea, when fed in Thomas (1911).
a ration similar in composition to one of During the nitrogen balance studies
Burroughs et al. (1975a), a response in milk (Table 7) the urea-fed groups had about 60
yield would be anticipated. The results in g/day greater N intake than the ZU gtoup'
Tables 2 and 3 indicate that the addition of Fecal N excretion was the same for all three
urea to concentrate (when ration crude groups; however, urinary N excretion was
For personal use only.

Drotein was 97il did not stimulate milk significantly greater on the urea-containing
production or maintain milk persistency. diets. Nitrogen utilization, as shown by N
Milk composition was not significantly balance (Table 7), was significantly greater
affected by urea feeding. Fat percent for the for the LU than the ZU group but not the HU
periods and treatments were almost identi- group. Only the LU group was in a positive
cal (Table 6). The percent of milk protein N balance whereas the ZU and HU groups
was unchanged between periods; however, were in a negative N balance, the HU group
when comparisons were made between being less negative than the ZU group.
treatments, there was a tendency for the Rumen volatile fatty acid concentrations
percent protein to increase with increased (acetic, propionic, isobutyric , butyric,
crude protein intake (Table 6). This obser- isovaleric, valeric and caproic) were not

Table 7. Effects of urea on nitrogen intake, utilization and balance1

LU HU

Nitrogen intake (g/day)


Basal 217.4 221.2 213.1 ro.'7
Urea 59.2 68.0 6.0
Total 211 .4" 280.4b 281.]b 14.4

Nitrogen excretion (g/day)


Fecal 111.1 107.3 109.5 6.8
Urinary 42.8" 80.1b 98.40 6.3

Nitrogen utilization (g/day)


'79.1 '71.4 8.3
Milk '1.0
b
Balance -11.9' 13.3 - 3.6"b
Total 63.5' 93.0b 78.8.b 8.0

fNitrogen balance studies were done on weeks 12 and 13.


c,b Means without common superscripts are significantly different (P < .05)
ERFLE ET AL.-UREA FOR LACTATING COWS 83

Table 8. The effects of urea supplementation on rumen acetic and propionic acid concenfation and on the
acetic-orooionic acid ratio

Mean
Period ZU LU HU + SEM

Acetic acid (mM) I 63.0 63.4 61.5 62.63


2 6l .8 63. 1 62.2 62.36
3 65.6 66.6 64.9 65.69
Mean + SEM 63.46 64.36 62.86 + .544
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Propionic acid (mM) I 19.9 20.'7 22.6 21.05


2 22.1 2r.3 22.3 21.88
3 20.0 19.0 20.6 19.88
Mean + SEM 20.66 20.33 2r.82
Acetic-propionic ratio 1 3.25 3. l3 2.',l9 3.05'7
2 2.84 3.01 2.83 2.895
3 3.30 3.61 3.21 3.37s
Mean + SEM 3.130 3.253 2.945 +.0932

significantly affected by treatments. There production should result from the addition
was a slight increase in the concentration of of NPN to bring the crude protein content of
acetic acid, while that of propionic acid a ration from 9 to 72Vo. These same workers
decreased slightly resulting in an increased also calculated that when ruminal NH3-N is
acetic to propionic acid ratio in period 3 as increased from I to 4 mg/100 mI, a20-307o
compared to periods I and 2 (Table 8). This increase in milk production can be expected
For personal use only.

shift in ratio may reflect the decreased to occur. The results in Table 9 show that
concentrate and increased roughage content even though rumen NH:r-N concentration
of the diet consumed by these animals. increased from 1.5 to 6 mg/100 ml, no
None of the changes observed was statisti- response in milk production was observed
cally significant. (Table 2).
Dietary urea, if consumed in a short
In agreement with Knott et al. (19j2) and period of time, may be toxic (Helmer and
Roffler and Satter (1975a) ruminal NH3-N Bartley 1971). In the present experiment,
concentration generally reflected the crude cows, even when fed concentrate rations
protein content of the rations (Table 9). The containing as much as 5.8Vo urea, did not
regression equation of Roffler and Satter show toxicity symptoms because they vol-
( 1975b) predicts that a 15Vo increase in milk untarily limited their intake of concentrate.
Table 9. Plasma urea and rumen ammonia concentration of cows fed exnerimental rations

Mean
Period ZU LU HU + SEM

Plasma urea I 16.8" 15.4" 15.9


(mg/urea N/100 ml) 2 3.9i 9.3 br
11.',7\ 8.3 r
"
3 3.3\ 8.2ti 10.4"f '7.3t
Mean + SEM 8.0" 10.9b 12.5b +.67
Rumen ammonia I 5.98" 6.13" 5.92 6.01"
(mg NHrN/100 ml) 2 l.s3i 4.30br 6.57. 4.10f
1 1aa
3 3.57bf 5.00b 3.18f
Mean + SEM 2.88" A 1^b 5.680 +.320

c-c Means within rows without common superscripts are significantly different (p < .05).
el Means within columns without common subscripts are significantly different (p < .05)
84 CANADIAN JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE

The rumen microbial urease activity Glutamic acid was significantly increased in
(Table l0), expressed on the basis of rumen all three groups in period 2 relative to
microbial DNA, was not significantly (P > periods 1 and 3 (Table ll). A similar
.05) altered by the inclusion of urea in the increase in glutamic acid was observed by
diet. This observation is in agreement with Prior et al. (19'7D when urea was fed to
Clifford et al. ( 1968) who found no lambs. The concentration of plasma
induction of rumen urease as a result of urea glutamine was significantly increased in
feeding. The concentration of DNA per period 3 over period I for all three groups.
milliliter of rumen fluid is an index of In period 3, the plasma glutamine concent-
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rumen microbial numbers. As shown in ration was significantly higher in the two
Table 10, the DNA concentration decreased urea-fed groups than in the ZU control
< .05) during periods 2 and
significantly (P group. The suggestion has been made that
3 on all diets. This suggests that intact urea cycle activity decreases under condi-
protein may be required to maintain rumen tions of protein deprivation and urea
bacterial numbers, as proposed by Hen- feeding (Visek 1972). Since the nitrogen of
derickx (1916). glutamate and glutamine is removed via the
The plasma urea concentrations (Table 9) urea cycle, the observed increases in the
roughly reflected both the dietary crude plasma concentrations of these amino acids
protein content and the rumen ammonia may be the result of decreased urea cycle
concentration, in agreement with similar activity.
studies by others (Polan et al. 1970; Davis A group of plasma amino acids (Table
et al. 1956). Plasma urea concentratlon was 11). which includes histidine, isoleucine,
significantly higher in all cows during leucine, lysine, threonine and valine, de-
For personal use only.

period I than during the two subsequent creased with time on all three diets,
periods. In periods 2 and 3, plasma urea although the decrease was significant only
was significantly higher in the HU group in the HU group. A treatment effect was
than the LU group which was significantly observed in period 2 where the plasma
higher than in the ZU group. This is in amino acid concentration of the HU group
agreement with Polan et al. (1970) who was less than that of the ZU group. These
found increased plasma urea with increased results are in agreement with those of
urea in the diet. Virtanen (1970) who found the same amtno
Of the plasma amino acids determined, acids to be decreased during urea feeding as
those listed in Table 1 I underwent changes compared to protein feeding. Methionine
in concentration during urea feeding. concentration was not significantly altered

Table 10. Effects of ration on rumen urease activity and rumen microbial DNA concentratron

Mean
Period ZU LU HU + SEM

Rumen microbial I 299 326 315 -r+J


Urease (nmoles urea 2 535 400 482 ))z
hydrolyzed/h/pg DNA) 3 364 336 288 3',76

Mean :t SEM 310 342 340 + 25.8

Rumen microbral 1 84.9" 87.8" 99.4" 90.7 n


DNA (pglml) 2 39.1"f 49.9\ 44.3^Dr 44.5 t
3 42.5t 50.2f 45.8f 46.2r
Mean :t SEM 55.5 62.6 63.2 +2.56

a,b Means within rows without common supencripts are significantly different (P < 05)'
e,fMeanswithincolumnswithoutcommonsubscriptsaresignificantlydifferent(P< 05)'
ERFLE ET AL.-UREA FOR LACTATING COWS 85

Table 1 I . Effects of ration on Dlasma amino acid concentration

Mean
Period ZU LU HU + SEM
Grouped l 564 588 594" 582"
amino aicdst 2 565u 143"b 4)\b" t
4',77
(pmoles/L) 3 513 403 4221 4'7gl
Mean + SEM 541 5ll 480 +23.6
Glutamic acid 1 4.0" 45.3e 44.9e
(pmolesiL)
Can. J. Anim. Sci. Downloaded from www.nrcresearchpress.com by 189.234.28.188 on 03/02/18

2 80.9f '74.3f 75.0r 76.7 |


3 <)') 49.3" 49.8" 50.4"
Mean + SEM 59.0 56.2 56.1 +2.55
Glutamine I 153" 160" 156. l"
(pmolesiL) 2 I42e 1'73" 1 80" 161,9o
3 2l0i 280bf 306br 265.2t
Mean + SEM 1 68.3. 202.1b 215.2b +7.31
Methionine I 14.3"b" r3.81 20.9" 16.33"
(,u,moles/L) 2 21. 8f 18.2nr 22.'7 20.89f
3 21.1f 2J.41 25.8 24.18f
Mean + SEM 19.05 19.83 23.13 + 1.365

tGrouped amino acids are the sum of histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, threonine and valine.
a,b Means within rows without common superscripts are significantly different (p < .05).
el Means within columns without common subscripts are significantly different (p < .05)
For personal use only.

by urea feeding. There was a small but ing lactation. This does not rule out that
significant increase in methionine durins urea fed by other means could substitute for
periods 2 and 3(Table I l). plant protein. Altemate methods of feeding
The failure to obtain a positive lactation urea are curTently under investigation.
response from urea added to concentrate is
BAKKER, IJ.Tj. and VEEN, W. A. c. 1977.
in agreement with the results of Van Horn et The protein-saving effect of urea, starea and
aL (196'7), Van Horn and Jacobson (19l.1) 1,l-diureido isobutane when used in concen-
and Bakker and Veen (lgll), but is in trates for high-productive dairy cows. Z. Tier-
disagreement with results of Plummer et al. physioi. Tieremahrg. u. Futtermittelkde. 38:
(1971). Bakker and Veen (191'7), in a study 26r-273.
where urea was added to a dairy ration BARTLEY, E. E. and DEYOE, C. W. 1975.
concentrate, did not obtain an increase in Starea as a protein replacer for ruminants. A
milk production and concluded that review of l0 years of research. Feedstuffs 47,
the
addition of urea to concentrate does not lead No.30.
BURROUGHS, W., NELSON, D. K. and
to a significant saving in natural protein.
MERTENS, D. R. 1975a. Evaluatron of protein
Published reports (NAS-NRC t9j6) nutrition by metabolizable protein and urea
suggest that the means of feeding urea may fermentation potential. J. Dairy Sci. 58: 611-
be as important as the absolute amounts that 619.
are fed. Unfortunately, confusion arises BURROUGHS, W., NELSON, D. K. and
when researchers combine data from differ- MERTENS, D. R. 1975b. Protein physiology
ent laboratories, irrespective of the means and its application in the lactating cow: The
that were used in feeding urea and then metabolizable protein feeding standard. J.
make recommendations to the dairy indus- Anim. Sci. 4l:933-944.
try regarding permissible levels. In BURTON, K. 1956. A study of the conditions
this and mechanisms of the diphenylamine reaction
investigation, urea fed twice daily part of as for the colorimetric estimation of deoxyribonu-
the concentrate was not effective in support- cleic acid. Biochem. J. 62:315-323.
CANADIAN JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE

CLIFFORD. A. J., BOURDETTE, J. R. and NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES _


TILLMAN, A. D. 1968. Studies on ruminal NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL. 19'76.
urease activity. J. Anim. Sci. 27: 814-817. Urea and other non-protein compounds in animal
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non-protein nitrogen to high-producing dairy PLUMMER, J. R., MILES, J. T. ANd
cows. Symposium: Alimentation et sant6 des MONTGOMERY. M' J. 197 l. Effect of urea in
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Agricole de SrHyacinthe, Qu6bec. 24 Sept. of cows fed corn silage as the only forage. J
t915. Dairy Sci. 54: I 861-1865
CONWAY, E. J. 1957 . Microdiffusion analyses POLAN. C. E,, MILLER, C. N., CHANDLER,
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and volumetric error. 4th ed. Crosby Lockwood P. T., SANDY, R. A. and BOWMAN, R. L.
and Sons Ltd. , London, England. 1970. Interrelationships of urea, protein and
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Anim. Sci. 15:515-522. LIARD. M. L. 1976. Variable dietary protein
HELMER, L. G. and BARTLEY, E. E. 1971 and urea for intake and production in Holstein
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1-18. ROFFLER, R. E. and SATTER, L. D. 1975a.
HUBER, J. T. 1975. Protein and non-protetn Relationship between ruminal ammonia and
For personal use only.

nitrogen utilization in practical dairy rations. J. non-protein nitrogen utilization by ruminants. I.


Anim. Sci.4l:954-961 . Development of a model for predicting non-
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466-4'73. velopment of a theoretical model for predicting
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