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The partial replacement of soyabean meal and rapeseed meal with feed grade urea or a slow-release urea and its effect on the performance, metabolism and digestibility in dairy cows

  • L. A. Sinclair (a1), C. W. Blake (a1), P. Griffin (a1) and G. H. Jones (a1)


The objectives of the study were to determine the effect of the partial replacement of soyabean meal and rapeseed meal with feed grade urea or a slow-release urea on the performance, metabolism and whole-tract digestibility in mid-lactation dairy cows. Forty-two Holstein–Friesian dairy cows were allocated to one of three dietary treatments in each of three periods of 5 weeks duration in a Latin square design. Control (C) cows were offered a total mixed ration based on grass and maize silages and straight feeds that included 93 g/kg dry matter (DM) soyabean meal and 61 g/kg DM rapeseed meal. Cows that received either of the other two treatments were offered the same basal ration with the replacement of 28 g/kg DM soyabean and 19 g/kg DM rapeseed meal with either 5 g/kg DM feed grade urea (U) or 5.5 g/kg DM of the slow-release urea (S; Optigen®; Alltech Inc., Kentucky, USA), with the content of maize silage increasing. There was no effect (P > 0.05) of dietary treatment on DM intake, which averaged 22.5 kg/day. Similarly, there was no effect (P > 0.05) of treatment on daily milk or milk fat yield but there was a trend (P = 0.09) for cows offered either of the diets containing urea to have a higher milk fat content (average of 40.1 g/kg for U and S v. 38.9 g/kg for C). Milk true protein concentration and yield were not affected by treatment (P > 0.05). Milk yield from forage and N efficiency (g milk N output/g N intake) were highest (P < 0.01) in cows when offered S and lowest in C, with cows receiving U having intermediate values. Cows offered S also tended to have the highest live weight gain (0.38 kg/day) followed by U (0.23 kg/day) and C (0.01 kg/day; P = 0.07). Plasma urea concentrations were higher (P < 0.05) at 2 and 4 h post feeding in cows when offered U and lowest in C, with animals receiving S having intermediate values. There was no effect (P > 0.05) of treatment on whole-tract digestibility. In conclusion, the partial replacement of soyabean meal and rapeseed meal with feed grade urea or a slow-release urea can be achieved without affecting milk performance or diet digestibility, with the efficiency of conversion of dietary N into milk being improved when the slow-release urea was fed.


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The partial replacement of soyabean meal and rapeseed meal with feed grade urea or a slow-release urea and its effect on the performance, metabolism and digestibility in dairy cows

  • L. A. Sinclair (a1), C. W. Blake (a1), P. Griffin (a1) and G. H. Jones (a1)


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