The effects of rumen nitrogen balance on nutrient intake, nitrogen partitioning, and microbial protein synthesis in lactating dairy cows offered different dietary protein sources

Kand, D.; Dickhoefer, U.

Journal of Dairy Science 104(4): 4223-4235


ISSN/ISBN: 1525-3198
PMID: 33485679
Accession: 079079565

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The aim was to study the effects of rumen N balance (RNB), dietary protein source, and their interaction on feed intake, N partitioning, and rumen microbial crude protein (MCP) synthesis in lactating dairy cows. Twenty-four lactating Holstein cows were included in a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square experimental design comprising four 20-d periods, each with 12 d of adaptation to the experimental diets and 8 d of sampling. The dietary treatments followed a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement (i.e., 4 treatments) with 2 main protein sources [faba bean grain (FB) and SoyPass (SP; Beweka Kraftfutterwerk GmbH, Heilbronn, Germany)] offered at 2 dietary RNB levels each [0 g/kg of dry matter, DM (RNB0) and -3.2 g/kg of DM (RNB-)]. The RNB was calculated as the difference between dietary crude protein (CP) intake and the rumen outflow of undegraded feed CP and MCP and divided by 6.25. Composition of concentrate mixtures was adjusted to create diets with desired RNB levels. Each of these protein sources supplied ≥35% of total dietary CP. Both diets for each protein source were isoenergetic but differed in CP concentrations. The DM intake (kg/d) was lower for RNB- than for RNB0 in diets containing FB, whereas no differences were seen between the RNB levels for SP diets. The RNB- decreased N intake and urinary N excretion but increased milk N use efficiency in both FB and SP diets, with greater differences between the RNB levels for FB diets than for SP diets. Similarly, duodenal MCP synthesis (g/kg of digestible organic matter intake) estimated from purine derivatives in the urine was lower for RNB- than for RNB0 in FB diets but similar between the RNB levels in diets containing SP. Low RNB of approximately -65 g/d (approximately -3.2 g/kg of DM) in diets reduced feed intake, N balance, and performance in high-yielding dairy cows with possibly more pronounced effects in diets containing rapidly degradable protein sources.