Nitrogen supplementation of corn silages. 1. Effects on feed intake and milk production of dairy cows

ARJ Cabrita*, AJM Fonseca, RJ Dewhurst, CVP Sampaio, MFS Miranda, GNS Sousa, IMF Miranda, E Gomes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Feed intake and milk production responses to N supplementation of corn silage-based diets were measured in three 3 × 3 Latin square experiments. In each experiment, 9 Holstein cows received total mixed rations (TMR), based on corn silage. In Exp. 1, midlactation cows were used to study effects of diets with different ratios of effective rumen-degradable protein (ERDP; g) to fermentable metabolizable energy (FME; MJ), providing a large deficiency (RL), a slight deficiency (RM), and a slight excess (RH) in relation to the target level of 11 g of ERDP/MJ of FME, respectively, for lactating cows. Diets were formulated to be isoenergetic, and to satisfy the metabolizable protein requirements. In Exp. 2, early-lactation cows were used to evaluate effects of different proportions of quickly and slowly rumen-degradable protein (RDP), achieved by replacing soybean meal with urea in the concentrates (0, 0.5, and 1% urea). Experiment 3 investigated effects of synchronizing the availability of FME and ERDP in the rumen. Midlactation cows received a diet containing, on a dry matter (DM) basis, 45% corn silage, 5% ryegrass hay, 35% energy-rich concentrate, and 15% protein-rich concentrate (crude protein: 38% of DM; urea: 2% of DM). The protein-rich concentrate was fed either once (D1) or twice (D2) per day before the meal, or included in the TMR (DU). Treatment RL led to lower DM intake and milk yield, but higher milk production efficiency; there were no significant differences between treatments RM and RH. There were no significant treatment effects on DM intake, milk yield, or milk composition in Exp. 2. Manipulating rumen synchrony by altering the timing of feeding affected milk yields, with D1 cows producing significantly less than D2 and DU cows, which were similar. The amount of ERDP in the diet should be matched to the amount of fermentable energy available to maximize intake, milk yields, and the conversion of feed N into milk protein. However, this study showed only small benefits to altering the diurnal pattern of supply of RDP and FME, and only with extreme feeding strategies that would not be used in practice. Urine volume increased in response to increased or unbalanced protein supply. Analysis of the allantoin:creatinine ratio in spot samples of urine was not useful in identifying predicted differences in microbial protein yield from the rumen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4008-4019
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 2003


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