The objective of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between the efficiency of conversion of feed N into milk N [N-use efficiency (NUE)] and 15N enrichment of milk casein from lactating cows fed corn silage-based diets. Samples of feeds and milk were obtained from 3 experiments with lactating dairy cows. All diets were based on corn silage and were designed to evaluate the effects of (1) diets with different ratios of effective rumen-degradable protein to fermentable metabolizable energy (experiment 1), (2) different proportions of quickly and slowly rumen-degradable protein (experiment 2), and (3) synchronizing the availability of fermentable metabolizable energy and effective rumen- degradable protein in the rumen (experiment 3). Although no significant effect of diet on casein δ15N values was detected, casein was more enriched than the diet in each of the experiments. Nitrogen-use efficiency was negatively related to adjusted Δ15N (casein δ15N − diet δ15N) for experiments 1 and 2 individually and when combining data from all 3 experiments. The relatively low values for Δ15N suggest that these productive animals were using dietary N efficiently, with a high proportion of N going to milk protein and less to urea. The weak, although significant, relationship between NUE and adjusted Δ15N, is consistent with relatively little variation in hepatic deamination and transamination, with variation in rumen efficiency having the predominant effect on NUE. The present study confirms the lower 15N enrichment in protein when NUE is high and the potential to use N-isotope fractionation as a marker of NUE.
- Dairy cow
- Feed efficiency
- Isotopic fractionation
Cabrita, ARJ., Fonseca, AJM., & Dewhurst, RJ. (2014). Short communication: Relationship between the efficiency of utilization of feed nitrogen and 15N enrichment in casein from lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 97(11), 7225 - 7229. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2014-8297