Comparison of Urea and Biuret as Nitrogen Supplements to Low-quality Forage: Daily and Alternate Day Supplementation

Ruminal Fermentation


Five ruminally and duodenally cannulated steers (491 ± 21 kg BW) were used in an incomplete 5 × 4 Latin square with four 24-d periods to determine the influence of supplemental non-protein N (NPN) source and supplementation frequency (SF) on ruminal fermentation dynamics in steers consuming low-quality grass straw (4% CP).  Treatments (TRT) included an unsupplemented control (CON) and a urea or biuret supplement placed directly into the rumen daily (D) or every-other-day (2D) at 0700.  The NPN treatments were formulated to provide 90% of the estimated degradable intake protein requirement; therefore, the urea and biuret treatments received the same amount of supplemental N over a 2-d period.  Daily TRT were supplemented CP at 0.04% of BW/d while the 2D TRT were supplemented at 0.08% of BW every-other-day.  Forage was provided at 120% of the previous 5 d average intake in two equal portions at 0715 and 1900.  Ruminal fluid was collected 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 24 h after supplementation on a day of and a day before supplementation for all TRT.  Ruminal NH3-N increased (P < 0.04) with CP supplementation the day all supplements were provided and the day only daily supplements were provided compared with the CON.  However, an NPN source ´ SF interaction (P = 0.03) on the day all supplements were provided indicated NH3-N increased at a greater rate for urea as SF decreased compared with biuret.  Ruminal NH3-N on the day only daily supplements were provided was greater (P = 0.02) for D compared with 2D.  On the day all supplements were provided, D increased (P = 0.05) ruminal indigestible acid detergent fiber passage rate and ruminal liquid volume compared with 2D.  These results suggest that urea or biuret can be used effectively as a supplemental N source by steers consuming low-quality forage without adversely affecting ruminal fermentation, even when provided every-other-day.

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Currier, T.A., D.W. Bohnert, S.J. Falck, C.S. Schauer, and S.J. Bartle. 2004. Daily and alternate-day supplementation of urea or biuret to ruminants consuming low-quality forage: III. Effects on ruminal fermentation characteristics in steers.  J. Anim. Sci. 82:1528-1535  (DWB PDF#4)

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