Nitrogen partitioning, energy use efficiency and isotopic fractionation measurements from cows differing in genetic merit fed low-quality pasture in late lactation

L Cheng, SL Woodward, RJ Dewhurst, H Zhou, GR Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The study was carried out to evaluate energy and nitrogen (N) use efficiencies of high and low breeding worth (BW) cow groups relative toNisotopic fractionation (D15N). Eight high- and eight low-BW cows (meanBWindex = 198 and 57, respectively) in late lactation were used to conduct an N balance study with all cows fed autumn pasture. Individual cow pasture DM intake, N intake and N outputs of milk, urine and faeces were quantified. Plasma sample from each cow was harvested. Feed, plasma, faeces, urine and milk samples were measured for d15Nand calculated for D15N. UreaNin milk and plasma, and urinary excretion of purine derivatives were also measured. The metabolisable energy (ME) intake, milk energy output, and energy and N use efficiencies of high-BW cows were greater on average than low-BW cows. Conversely, the ratios of urinary N excretion to faecal N excretion and urinary N excretion to N intake were greater for low-BW cows than high-BW cows. There was no effect of BW groups on manure N output, apparent N digestibility, retained N, purine derivatives excretion or ratio of purine derivatives excretion toMEintake.Norelationships were found betweenNand energy efficiencies and d15N measurements. Regression analysis with individual cow measurement showed plasma d15N – feed d15Nwas negatively correlated withDMintake.Nuse efficiency was positively correlated withBW.High genetic merit cows are more efficient in N and energy use than lower genetic merit cows when fed low quality pasture in late lactation. Plasma d15N – feed d15N was proved to be a potential indicator of DM intake for individual cows when identical feed was offered. BW may be used to predict N use efficiency for individual cows.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1651 - 1656
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPrint publication - 2014


Bibliographical note



  • Isotopic discrimination
  • Manure nitrogen
  • Microbial energetic efficiency
  • Microbial protein synthesis
  • Sustainability

Cite this