Effect of Varying Dietary Crude Protein Level on Feed Intake, Nutrient Digestibility, Milk Production, and Nitrogen Use Efficiency by Lactating Holstein-Friesian Cows

Katongole, C.Bakyusa.; Yan, T.

Animals: An Open Access Journal from Mdpi 10(12)


ISSN/ISBN: 2076-2615
PMID: 33352790
DOI: 10.3390/ani10122439
Accession: 071087595

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Simple Summary Over the past decades, European Union countries have been under increasing pressure to reduce nitrogen pollution resulting from agricultural activities and ensure compliance with environmental legislations aimed at reducing the amount of nitrogen emitted into the atmosphere. Among the various forms of nitrogen losses into the atmosphere from agriculture, losses associated with farmed livestock (particularly dairy cows) are top priority. The nitrogen losses associated with livestock originate mostly from the excreta (feces and urine), with dietary protein content as a major driver. Despite the concern about dietary protein, the feeding of diets with excess protein relative to requirements (protein overfeeding) is evident on many commercial dairy farms in Europe, with the belief that it enhances milk production and in part for purposes of providing a margin of safety. The effect of dietary crude protein (CP) level on intake, digestibility, milk production, and nitrogen (N) use efficiency was studied. Twenty-four Holstein-Friesian cows (17 multiparous and seven primiparous) were grouped by parity, days in milk, milk yield, and live weight into six blocks of four, and randomly assigned to four total mixed ration (TMR) treatments, containing 141, 151, 177, or 210 g CP/kg dry matter (DM), over 28 day experimental periods. Apparent total-tract DM and fiber digestibilities and milk fat composition were similar across treatments. Milk protein and urea-N compositions, and urinary and manure N excretion increased linearly, while milk N efficiency (MNE) decreased linearly with increasing CP. DM intake was highest with the 177 diet, while CP intake increased linearly with increasing CP, peaking at 200 g/kg DM. Milk yield increased with CP intake for the three lower CP levels, peaking at 176 g CP/kg DM. The further increase in CP level from 177 to 210 g/kg DM did not result in improved milk yield, but resulted in decreased milk N secretion and increased urinary N excretion. In summary, milk protein composition increased linearly with increasing CP, accompanied by a linear decrease in MNE, resulting in a bell-shaped relationship between milk yield and dietary CP level.