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Evaluating nitrogen utilization efficiency of nonpregnant dry cows offered solely fresh cut grass at maintenance levels

Stergiadis, S., Chen, X., Allen, M., Wills, D. and Yan, T. (2015) Evaluating nitrogen utilization efficiency of nonpregnant dry cows offered solely fresh cut grass at maintenance levels. Journal of Animal Science, 93 (2). pp. 709-720. ISSN 0021-8812

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To link to this item DOI: 10.2527/jas.2014-8197

Abstract/Summary

The present study aimed to identify key parameters influencing N utilization and develop prediction equations for manure N output (MN), feces N output (FN), and urine N output (UN). Data were obtained under a series of digestibility trials with nonpregnant dry cows fed fresh grass at maintenance level. Grass was cut from 8 different ryegrass swards measured from early to late maturity in 2007 and 2008 (2 primary growth, 3 first regrowth, and 3 second regrowth) and from 2 primary growth early maturity swards in 2009. Each grass was offered to a group of 4 cows and 2 groups were used in each of the 8 swards in 2007 and 2008 for daily measurements over 6 wk; the first group (first 3 wk) and the second group (last 3 wk) assessed early and late maturity grass, respectively. Average values of continuous 3-d data of N intake (NI) and output for individual cows ( = 464) and grass nutrient contents ( = 116) were used in the statistical analysis. Grass N content was positively related to GE and ME contents but negatively related to grass water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC), NDF, and ADF contents ( < 0.01), indicating that accounting for nutrient interrelations is a crucial aspect of N mitigation. Significantly greater ratios of UN:FN, UN:MN, and UN:NI were found with increased grass WSC contents and ratios of N:WSC, N:digestible OM in total DM (DOMD), and N:ME ( < 0.01). Greater NI, animal BW, and grass N contents and lower grass WSC, NDF, ADF, DOMD, and ME concentrations were significantly associated with greater MN, FN, and UN ( < 0.05). The present study highlighted that using grass lower in N and greater in fermentable energy in animals fed solely fresh grass at maintenance level can improve N utilization, reduce N outputs, and shift part of N excretion toward feces rather than urine. These outcomes are highly desirable in mitigation strategies to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from livestock. Equations predicting N output from BW and grass N content explained a similar amount of variability as using NI and grass chemical composition (excluding DOMD and ME), implying that parameters easily measurable in practice could be used for estimating N outputs. In a research environment, where grass DOMD and ME are likely to be available, their use to predict N outputs is highly recommended because they strongly improved of the equations in the current study.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Food Production and Quality Division > Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences (ADFCS)
ID Code:42196
Publisher:American Society of Animal Science

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