The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of different amounts of rumen-undegradable protein (RUP) on intake, N balance, performance, mammary gland development, carcass traits, and hormonal status of Holstein heifers at different physiological stages (PS). Sixteen prepubertal (PRE) heifers (initial BW = 106 ± 7.6 kg; age = 4.3 ± 0.46 mo) and 16 pubertal (PUB) heifers (initial BW = 224 ± 7.9 kg; age = 12.6 ± 0.45 mo) were used in an experiment over a period of 84 d. Four diets with increasing RUP contents (38, 44, 51, and 57% of dietary crude protein) and heifers at 2 PS (PRE or PUB) were used in a 4 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments in a completely randomized design. Throughout the experiment, 2 digestibility trials were performed over 5 consecutive days (starting at d 36 and 78) involving feed and ort sampling and spot collections of feces and urine. At d 0 and 83, body ultrasound images were obtained for real-time carcass trait evaluation. The mammary gland was ultrasonically scanned at d 0 and every 3 wk during the experiment. Blood samples were taken at d 0 and 84 to determine serum concentrations of progesterone, estrogen, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), and insulin. No interaction between PS and the level of RUP was found for any trait. Apparent digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, and neutral detergent fiber corrected for ash and protein was not affected by RUP level but was lower for PRE compared with PUB heifers. Sorting against neutral detergent fiber corrected for ash and protein (tendency only) and for crude protein was greater for PUB than PRE heifers. Pubertal heifers had greater average daily gain (905 vs. 505 g/d) and N retention (25.9 vs. 12.5 g/d) than PRE heifers. In addition, average daily gain and N retention were greatest at 51% RUP of dietary protein. Mammary ultrasonography indicated no effects of RUP amounts on mammary gland composition, whereas PRE heifers had greater pixel values than PUB, indicating higher contents of fat rather than protein in the mammary glands of PRE heifers. Serum progesterone and IGF-I concentration was affected only by PS, and PRE heifers had greater values of progesterone and IGF-I concentrations than PUB heifers. Serum insulin concentration was unaffected by PS but tended to be higher at 51% of RUP. In conclusion, an RUP level of 51% increases body weight, average daily gain, feed efficiency, and N retention in heifers regardless of the PS. In addition, PRE heifers have a lower sorting ability and reduced intake, total-tract digestibility, and N retention. They also have higher amounts of fat in their mammary glands, even at moderate growth rates.
- mammary gland ultrasound
- nitrogen retention
Silva, A. L., Detmann, E., Dijkstra, J., Pedroso, A. M., Silva, L. H. P., Machado, A. F., Sousa, F. C., dos Santos, G. B., & Marcondes, M. I. (2018). Effects of rumen-undegradable protein on intake, performance, and mammary gland development in prepubertal and pubertal dairy heifers. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(7), 5991-6001. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2017-13230