Effects of Combining Feed Grade Urea and a Slow-release Urea Product on Characteristics of Digestion, Microbial Protein Synthesis and Digestible Energy in Steers Fed Diets with Different Starch:ADF Ratios

  • Lopez-Soto, M.A. (Research Institute of Veterinary Sciences, University Autonomous of Baja California) ;
  • Rivera-Mendez, C.R. (Research Institute of Veterinary Sciences, University Autonomous of Baja California) ;
  • Aguilar-Hernandez, J.A. (Research Institute of Veterinary Sciences, University Autonomous of Baja California) ;
  • Barreras, A. (Research Institute of Veterinary Sciences, University Autonomous of Baja California) ;
  • Calderon-Cortes, J.F. (Research Institute of Veterinary Sciences, University Autonomous of Baja California) ;
  • Plascencia, A. (Research Institute of Veterinary Sciences, University Autonomous of Baja California) ;
  • Davila-Ramos, H. (Veterinary School, University Autonomous of Sinaloa) ;
  • Estrada-Angulo, A. (Veterinary School, University Autonomous of Sinaloa) ;
  • Valdes-Garcia, Y.S. (Academic Unit of Veterinary and Animal Science, University Autonomous of Nayarit)
  • Received : 2013.07.07
  • Accepted : 2013.09.01
  • Published : 2014.02.01


As a result of the cost of grains, the replacement of grains by co-products (i.e. DDGS) in feedlot diets is a common practice. This change produces diets that contain a lower amount of starch and greater amount of fibre. Hypothetically, combining feed grade urea (U) with slow release urea (Optigen) in this type of diet should elicit a better synchrony between starch (high-rate of digestion) and fibre (low-rate of digestion) promoting a better microbial protein synthesis and ruminal digestion with increasing the digestible energy of the diet. Four cannulated Holstein steers ($213{\pm}4$ kg) were used in a $4{\times}4$ Latin square design to examine the combination of Optigen and U in a finishing diet containing different starch:acid detergent fibre ratios (S:F) on the characteristics of digestive function. Three S:F ratios (3.0, 4.5, and 6.0) were tested using a combination of U (0.80%) and Optigen (1.0%). Additionally, a treatment of 4.5 S:F ratio with urea (0.80% in ration) as the sole source of non-protein nitrogen was used to compare the effect of urea combination at same S:F ratio. The S:F ratio of the diet was manipulated by replacing the corn grain by dried distillers grain with solubles and roughage. Urea combination did not affect ruminal pH. The S:F ratio did not affect ruminal pH at 0 and 2 h post-feeding but, at 4 and 6 h, the ruminal pH decreased as the S:F ratio increased (linear, p<0.05). Ruminal digestion of OM, starch and feed N were not affected by urea combination or S:F ratio. The urea combination did not affect ADF ruminal digestion. ADF ruminal digestion decreased linearly (p = 0.02) as the S:F ratio increased. Compared to the urea treatment (p<0.05) and within the urea combination treatment (quadratic, p<0.01), the flow of microbial nitrogen (MN) to the small intestine and ruminal microbial efficiency were greater for the urea combination at a S:F ratio of 4.5. Irrespective of the S:F ratio, the urea combination improved (2.8%, p = 0.02) postruminal N digestion. As S:F ratio increased, OM digestion increased, but ADF total tract digestion decreased. The combination of urea at 4.5 S:F improved (2%, p = 0.04) the digestible energy (DE) more than expected. Combining urea and Optigen resulted in positive effects on the MN flow and DE of the diet, but apparently these advantages are observed only when there is a certain proportion of starch:ADF in the diet.


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