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Preliminary study on the use of different methods for determining the proportion of bacterial nitrogen in the total nitrogen of rumen contents

  • J. Anna Nikolić (a1) and M. Jovanović (a1)


Three different methods have been used to estimate the contribution of bacterial nitrogen to the total nitrogen in rumen digesta from calves receiving ground diets containing different levels of digestible energy and in which part of the nitrogen was supplied as urea. The method based on the ratio of 2, 6-diaminopimelic acid (DAP)-N to total N for rumen contents and rumen bacteria was not successful because the bacterial fraction isolated from pooled rumen contents contained a similar concentration of DAP to whole rumen digesta. The main source of error in the method based on the nucleic acid N/total non-NH3-N ratio for whole rumen contents and bacteria was probably the variability in the ratio for bacteria growing under different conditions. The method utilizing differences in the amino acid composition of the diets, a bacterial fraction and rumen content estimates bacterial protein rather than bacterial nitrogen. The chief limitation is the different rate of degradation of different dietary proteins. Bearing in mind these limitations calculations by the nucleic acid method gave mean values of 61–94 % bacterial nitrogen in the total nitrogen of rumen contents 3 h after feeding four different diets. Values recorded by the amino acid composition method varied between 66 % and 82 % bacterial protein N in the total protein N of rumen contents. The proportional contribution of bacteria increased as the digestible energy content of the diet was decreased in both cases. However, since the ruminal total protein N concentration fell as the digestible energy content of the diet was reduced, the actual concentration of bacterial protein N decreased with decrease in dietary digestible energy.



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