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

Stergiadis, S. ORCID:, 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


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
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Animal Sciences > Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences (ADFCS)- DO NOT USE
ID Code:42196
Publisher:American Society of Animal Science

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