An integrated mathematical model to evaluate nutrient partition in dairy cattle between the animal and its environment

E. Kebreab, J.A.N. Mills, L.A. Crompton, A. Bannink, J. Dijkstra, W.J.J. Gerrits, J. France

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60 Citations (Scopus)


In the past decade, a number of mechanistic, dynamic simulation models of several components of the dairy production system have become available. However their use has been limited due to the detailed technical knowledge and special software required to run them, and the lack of compatibility between models in predicting various metabolic processes in the animal. The first objective of the current study was to integrate the dynamic models of [Brit. J. Nutr. 72 (1994) 679] on rumen function, [J. Anim. Sci. 79 (2001) 1584] on methane production, [J. Anim. Sci. 80 (2002) 248] on N partition, and a new model of P partition. The second objective was to construct a decision support system to analyse nutrient partition between animal and environment. The integrated model combines key environmental pollutants such as N, P and methane within a nutrient-based feed evaluation system. The model was run under different scenarios and the sensitivity of various parameters analysed. A comparison of predictions from the integrated model with the original simulation models showed an improvement in N excretion since the integrated model uses the dynamic model of [Brit. J. Nutr. 72 (1994) 679] to predict microbial N, which was not represented in detail in the original model. The integrated model can be used to investigate the degree to which production and environmental objectives are antagonistic, and it may help to explain and understand the complex mechanisms involved at the ruminal and metabolic levels. A part of the integrated model outputs were the forms of N and P in excreta and methane, which can be used as indices of environmental pollution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-154
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • grass-silage diets
  • nitrogen-utilization
  • mechanistic model
  • milk-production
  • fed sugarcane
  • cows
  • digestion
  • phosphorus
  • metabolism
  • simulation

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