Two experiments were carried out with Friesian cows grazing improved winter pastures. In expt 1, 12 cows were fed 6·6kg/d of a barley-based concentrate containing either no N supplement, or supplements of casein, formaldehydeprotected casein or urea which provided 48 g N/d. In expt 2, 12 cows were fed 2·6kg/d of a barley-based concentrate containing either casein, formaldehyde-protected casein or equal mixtures of both, all of which provided 96g N/d.
In expt 1, although the production of fat-corrected milk was 7·1% higher and that of total solids 6·1% higher on the protected casein than on the casein diet, production of milk and milk constituents on the control and urea diets were similar to values obtained for cows fed protected casein. In expt 2, milk production and composition were unaffected by treatments.
The concentrations of amino acids in jugular plasma and mammary uptake per litre of plasma were not affected by the experimental diets in expt 1, and were unrelated to milk yield in either experiment. In expt 2 the concentrations of glycine, serine and threonine in jugular plasma were significantly higher in the diet in which none of the casein was protected. Mobilization of muscle protein may have been responsible for the elevated levels of glycine in cows fed this diet. Mammary uptakes of essential amino acids in expts 1 and 2 were respectively 47 and 42% of those available, whereas the uptakes of non-essential amino acids were respectively 24 and 17% of those available.
An attempt was made to determine the amino acids most likely to limit milk production. Milk:uptake concentration ratios were obtained using our values for amino-acid uptakes and values published previously for the concentration of amino acids in milk. The results of these calculations suggest that the amino acids most likely to limit milk production are threonine, phenylalanine and methionine.