Estimating the energetic cost of feeding excess dietary nitrogen to dairy cows

K.F. Reed*, H.C. Bonfá, Jan Dijkstra, D.P. Casper, E. Kebreab

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Feeding N in excess of requirement could require the use of additional energy to metabolize excess protein, and to synthesize and excrete urea; however, the amount and fate of this energy is unknown. Little progress has been made on this topic in recent decades, so an extension of work published in 1970 was conducted to quantify the effect of excess N on ruminant energetics. In part 1 of this study, the results of previous work were replicated using a simple linear regression to estimate the effect of excess N on energy balance. In part 2, mixed model methodology and a larger data set were used to improve upon the previously reported linear regression methods. In part 3, heat production, retained energy, and milk energy replaced the composite energy balance variable previously proposed as the dependent variable to narrow the effect of excess N. In addition, rumen degradable and undegradable protein intakes were estimated using table values and included as covariates in part 3. Excess N had opposite and approximately equal effects on heat production (+4.1 to +7.6 kcal/g of excess N) and retained energy (-4.2 to -6.6 kcal/g of excess N) but had a larger negative effect on milk gross energy (-52 to -68 kcal/g of excess N). The results suggest that feeding excess N increases heat production, but more investigation is required to determine why excess N has such a large effect on milk gross energy production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7116-7126
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Energetics
  • Nitrogen
  • Nutrient requirements


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