The Use of Urea Dilution for Estimation of Carcass Composition of Holstein Steers at 3, 6, 9, and 12 Months of Age

J. Velazco, J. L. Morrill, D. H. Kropf, R. T. Brandt, D. L. Harmon, R. L. Preston, R. Clarenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Every 3 mo for a 2-yr period, two weaned Holstein steer calves (94.5 kg) were randomly assigned to each of four slaughter age groups (3, 6, 9, and 12 mo). Urea dilution was performed before slaughter, and urea space (US) was calculated as total volume and as a percentage of body weight (BW) and empty body weight (EBW). The relationships between US (kg, % EBW and % BW), BW, and EBW and carcass soft tissue composition (protein, fat, moisture, and ash) were studied. One- and two-pool models were fitted using the urea dilution data and the coefficients of those equations (zero time, A + B), and the intercepts of compartments A and B were used to estimate body volume. Body weight and EBW effectively predicted the amount of water, fat, and protein in the carcass soft tissue. Equations expressed in kilograms were more accurate than those expressed as percentages. Urea space overestimated body water, probably because of the fast rate of urea disappearance in plasma. Correlation coefficients between US and carcass soft tissue water (kg) based on the pooled data ranged from .74 at 6 min to .48 at 42 min after infusion. The biexponential models coefficients explained more of the variation of carcass soft tissue composition than US; correlation coefficients using volume B and the soft tissue composition (in kg) with pooled data were .78 (water), .68 (fat), .69 (ash), and .76 (protein). The relationships between A and soft tissue composition were weaker (water .59, fat .51, ash .58, and protein .59). The highest correlation coefficients were obtained when A + B was used for water, fat, ash, and protein (.83, .70, .74, and .81, respectively). Equations combining BW, EBW, and two-model coefficients (A, B, A + B) explained much of the variation of soft tissue composition. No significant benefit was found in using the urea space at various times after infusion over BW or EBW alone to estimate carcass soft tissue composition in Holstein steers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997


  • Calves
  • Carcass Composition
  • Holstein
  • Urea Dilution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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