The effects of degradable nitrogen level and slow release urea on nitrogen balance and urea kinetics in Holstein steers

V. B. Holder, J. M. Tricarico, D. H. Kim, N. B. Kristensen, D. L. Harmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to compare nitrogen metabolism and urea kinetics between diets containing either rapidly degrading or slow degrading non-protein nitrogen (NPN) at varying levels of degradable intake protein (DIP). Treatments were slow release urea (Optigen®, Alltech, Inc.) fed at 1.01 and 1.14 and feed grade urea (UREA) fed at 0.89 and 1.00 of calculated DIP requirements. Eight Holstein steers (209 ±15kg) implanted with 28mg estradiol+200mg trenbolone acetate (Synovex Plus, Fort Dodge Animal Health, Fort Dodge, IA) were used in a replicated 4×4 Latin square. Experimental periods were 27 days, with 19 day adaptation followed by 7 day of urine and fecal collection and 1 day of blood sampling. Continuous (78h) intravenous infusion of 15N15N-urea allowed the estimation of systemic urea kinetics. Dry matter intake was not different between treatments (7.2kg/day). Increasing DIP had a tendency to increase dry matter digestibility (DMD) for both Urea and Optigen®. Urea had higher DMD than Optigen®. Increasing DIP increased urinary N output for both UREA and Optigen®, and increased N-retention at 1.14 Optigen®. Increasing DIP increased urea-N entry rate (UER) and urinary urea-N excretion (UUE) for both Optigen® and UREA. Gastrointestinal entry of urea-N, urea-N lost to feces and urea-N apparently used for anabolism were not different between treatments. Plasma urea concentration was greater in higher DIP diets and higher for Urea than Optigen® at 1.00 DIP. Therefore increasing DIP level will increase N-excretion related to higher urea production and excretion in urine but may also increase diet digestibility. Most changes in N metabolism were driven by N intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cattle
  • Nitrogen metabolism
  • Urea recycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'The effects of degradable nitrogen level and slow release urea on nitrogen balance and urea kinetics in Holstein steers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this