Utilisation by ruminants of nitrogen compounds in silage-based diets
Givens, D. I. and Rulquin, H. (2004) Utilisation by ruminants of nitrogen compounds in silage-based diets. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 114 (1-4). pp. 1-18. ISSN 0377-8401
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.antfeedsci.2003.09.005
This paper considers the various complex changes that occur to nitrogen (N) containing compounds in forages through the processes of ensiling, rumen degradation and microbial synthesis, post-ruminal digestion and absorption and synthesis into milk protein. Particular emphasis is placed on reviewing recent data on the efficiency of utilisation of N-containing compounds in silages by rumen microbes, since low efficiency here is believed to be a major cause of large N losses to the environment on some silage-based diets. Data are reviewed which show that although rumen degradation of N compounds in silage is rapid and extensive, up to 10% of the soluble N can escape the rumen by being associated with the liquid phase. There is now firm evidence that the composition of the amino acids (AAs) absorbed is heavily dependent on the process of ensiling and that witting or use of certain silage additives conserve the initial amino acid profile of the forage. This provides an opportunity to manipulate the amino acid supply to better match demand thus potentially enhancing utilisation. This review confirms that utilisation of the N fractions in grass and legume silages in particular, is poor and the efficiency of microbial protein synthesis (EMPS) is consistently higher on maize silage-based diets. It is concluded that the way in which grass and legume silages in particular are produced and used in the future needs a radical rethink. New research needs to be aimed at enhancing the utilisation of N in the rumen through a better understanding of N/carbohydrate relationships and the ability of forages to supply degraded carbohydrate. Also more emphasis is needed on understanding of the potentially different role of the different N fractions that exist in silages. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.