Urine Volume and Nitrogen Excretion are Altered by Feeding Birdsfoot Trefoil Compared with Alfalfa in Lactating Dairy Cows
Journal of Animal Science
Oxford University Press
Legumes that contain condensed tannins may have lower ruminal protein degradation than alfalfa. The present study investigated the effects of feeding birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) hay on lactational performance and N utilization and excretion. Eight multiparous Holstein cows in midlactation (150 ± 22.3 d-in-milk) were randomly assigned to 2 treatments [alfalfa hay-based total mixed ration (AHT) or birdsfoot trefoil hay-based total mixed ration (BHT)] in a crossover design with 2 experimental periods. Each experimental period lasted 17 d (14 d of adaptation and 3 d of sampling and total collection). Hays comprised approximately 50% of DM in experimental diets. There were no treatment effects on dry matter intake (DMI; 21.4 vs. 20.7 kg/d), milk yield (29.4 vs. 28.1 kg/d), milk fat concentration (3.20% vs. 3.21%), and milk protein concentration (3.20% vs. 3.16%) for AHT and BHT, respectively. In addition, dietary treatments did not affect milk yield/DMI or energy-corrected milk yield/DMI. In contrast, apparent crude protein digestion decreased in cows fed BHT compared with those fed AHT (60.7% vs. 69.1%). Concentration of milk urea-N decreased by feeding BHT compared with AHT (11.9 vs. 13.3 mg/100 mL), whereas total N excretion did not differ between AHT and BHT diets. However, cows fed BHT excreted more N in feces (194 vs. 168 g/d), whereas urinary N excretion was lower compared with cows fed AHT. The shift of N to feces resulted in a decrease in urinary N:fecal N ratio in cows fed BHT relative to those fed AHT. Overall results in the current study suggest that feeding birdsfoot trefoil in dairy diets shifts routes of N from urine to feces compared with feeding alfalfa hay, with little effect on lactational performance. Reduction in urinary N and any impact on environment may be attributed to functional effect of condensed tannins in birdsfoot trefoil hay.
Mohammad Ghelichkhan, Jong-Su Eun, Rachael G Christensen, Rusty D Stott, Jennifer W MacAdam; Urine volume and nitrogen excretion are altered by feeding birdsfoot trefoil compared with alfalfa in lactating dairy cows, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 96, Issue 9, 7 September 2018, Pages 3993–4001, https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/sky259