Nitrogen use efficiency and excretion in grazing cows with high and low milk urea nitrogen breeding values

Martín Correa-Luna, Daniel Donaghy, Peter Kemp, Michael Schutz, Nicolás López-Villalobos

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Milk urea nitrogen content is moderately heritable and is phenotypically related to urine nitrogen (UN). Based on this relationship, it has been suggested that genetic selection for lower milk urea nitrogen in grazing dairy cows could decrease UN concentration thereby reducing nitrogen excretions into the ground. The objective of this study was to compare the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and excretion in grazing cows with high and low milk urea nitrogen breeding values (MUNBV) in two farms of contrasting farming intensity. On the high-intensity farm (HIF) 68 and 70 cows with low and high MUNBV, respectively, were fed higher levels of supplementation and milked twice-daily, while on the low-intensity farm (LIF) 82 and 86 cows with low and high MUNBV, respectively, were fed lower levels of supplementation milked once-daily. Nitrogen use efficiency (g/g) was calculated as the ratio of daily milk N to daily N intake. Daily N intake (g/day) was derived from feed intake estimates based on energy requirements. The UN (g/day) was estimated by back-calculation from dietary N and subtracting milk N, faecal N, and N retained in body tissues. Irrespective of farm, cows with low MUNBV had significantly lower MY and milk urea nitrogen (p < 0.001) but this was not linked to significantly less UN. In the LIF, cows with low MUNBV had lower NUE (p < 0.001) than cows with high MUNBV, and this was explained by the reduced protein yield (p < 0.001). Selecting cows for low MUNBV was not an effective tool to reduce N losses and to increase the NUE in two dairy farms of contrasting farming intensity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9827
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume13
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Dairy cows
  • Genetic selection
  • Milk urea nitrogen
  • Nitrogen excreta
  • Nitrogen use efficiency

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