Nitrogen metabolism of early lactation cows fed diets with two different levels of protein and different amino acid profiles

A. Bach, G. B. Huntington, S. Calsamiglia, M. D. Stern

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Four multiparous Holstein cows (569 ± 122 kg) surgically prepared with indwelling catheters in the mesenteric, portal, and hepatic veins and carotid artery were allocated in a 4 × 4 Latin square to determine the effects of dietary crude protein (CP) level and amino acid (AA) profile on N metabolism during early lactation (from 25 to 65 d in milk). Cows received their diets in two equal meals and were milked twice daily. The dietary treatments were: 18% CP with a high (18H) or a low (18L) quality AA profile, and 15% CP with a high (15H) or a low (15L) quality AA profile. The four diets were similar in net energy for lactation (1.75 NEL Mcal/kg) and contained the same amount of RUP (34% of CP). The quality of the AA profile pertained only to the essential AA (EAA), and was assessed by comparison with the EAA profile of casein and considered the potential contribution of EAA from ruminai bacteria. The 18H and 15H diets were supplemented with 50 and 25 g/d of ruminally protected Met, respectively. After 10 d on treatment, a blood flow marker (p-amino-hippurate) was infused into a mesenteric vein, and arterial, portal, hepatic, and mammary blood samples were obtained at 3, 6, and 12 h after feeding. Dry matter intake was similar across treatments (23.4 ± 0.5 kg/d). Amino acid oxidation, and consequent urea production, in the liver were numerically greater with the 18% CP rations, and, as a result, arterial urea concentrations were greatest (P < 0.01) with these rations. The amount of total AA extracted by the mammary gland tended to be greater with the H than with the L diets (21.4 vs. 18.2 mmol/ h, respectively). Milk yield tended to be greater (P = 0.16) with the 18H and 15H diets (47.7 and 46.3 kg/d, respectively) compared with the 18L and 15L diets (45.9 and 44.6 kg/d, respectively). Also, milk CP and casein contents were greatest (P = 0.09) with the H diets compared with the L diets. Milk and plasma urea N were greatest (P < 0.01) with the 18% CP diets. The efficiency of N utilization for milk protein synthesis was greatest (P < 0.09) with the 15% CP diets. It is concluded that milk protein production during early lactation is less susceptible to variations in dietary CP contents than variations in the AA profile of the dietary protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2585-2595
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to A. M. Trent for her excellent help with the surgical preparations of the animals and to L. F. Graham for her valuable and dedicated assistance with the anesthesia. This work was supported in part by Nisso America, Inc., New York, NY.


  • Amino acids
  • Milk production
  • Plasma flow
  • Protein


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