Semi-purified diets containing urea (diet A), uric acid (diet B) or soya-bean meal (diet C) as the sole source of nitrogen were fed to two Friesian bull calves fitted with re-entrant duodenal cannulae. Total collections of digesta leaving the abomasum were made over 24-h periods.
The flow of organic matter to the duodenum expressed as a percentage of intake increased from 35·8% (diet A) and 40·6% (diet B) for the non-protein nitrogen diets to 58·3% for diet C. A greater proportion of the apparent digestion of organic matter occurred in the forestomachs of the calves when fed diets A or B than when they were fed diet C.
The flow of nitrogen from the abomasum expressed as a percentage of intake showed a significant increase (P < 0·05) from 65·4% for diet A to 84·4% for diet B and 85·1% for diet C. When diets B and C were fed to the calves a greater proportion of the apparent digestion of nitrogen occurred in the hindgut than when they were fed diet A. The synthesis of microbial protein was 13·9 g and 13·0 g for every 100 g of organic matter digested in the stomach when the calves were fed diets B and C and only 10·9 g when the calves were fed diet A.
A significantly (P < 0·05) greater proportion of dry matter of the digesta at the duodenum was composed of amino acids on diet C (19·5%) than diet A (16·1%) with the proportion of essential amino acids (especially threonine, lysine, histidine and arginine) also being greater. The amino acid composition of the digesta dry matter on diet B was intermediate (17·2%).
From the data presented, it was predicted that cystine and histidine were the first limiting amino acids for growth when the calves were fed the non-protein nitrogen diets (A and B).