1. Expt 1. Five 150 kg steers with ruminal, abomasal and ileal cannulas were given 3000 g oaten chaff daily plus prelleted supplement with no added nitrogen (diet A) or 50 g N/d as urea (diet B), casein (diet C), casein and formaldehyde-treated casein (HCHO-casein) (50:50 w/w; diet D) and HCHO-casein (diet E), in a 5 × 5 Latin square design. The basal diet and supplement were fed in eight equal increments at intervals of 3 h. Proportions of dry matter and organic matter digested in the stomach and whole tract were greater for diets B, C, D and E than for diet A. Total volatile fatty acid levels in the rumen and the proportion of acetic acid were lower, and the proportion of propionic acid higher on diet A than on the other diets. Rumen ammonia levels were lower on diets A, D and E than on diets B and C. N flows at the abomasum, ileum and rectum were lower on diet A than on the other diets; abomasal flows and apparent intestinal absorptions of amino acids were higher on diets D and E than on diets A, B and C. Efficiencies of bacterial protein synthesis were 15, 15, 14, 13 and 12 g bacterial N/kg OM truly digested in the stomach on diets A, B, C, D and E respectively.
2. Expt. 2. Forty 300 kg steers were fed oaten chaff ad lib. plus twice the amount of the same pelleted supplements as in Expt 1. Intake of oaten chaff was 23% higher with N supplements (diets B, C, D and E) than without (diet A). Live-weight gains were 356, 798, 843, 842 and 805 g/d on diets A, B, C, D and E respectively.
3. It was concluded that efficiency of bacterial protein synthesis was not limited by the supply of peptides and amino acids in the rumen and that increases in amino acid availability in the intestines from feeding HCHO-casein did not increase food intake or live-weight gain.