Factors affecting energy and nitrogen efficiency of dairy cows: A meta-analysis

H.N. Phuong, N.C. Friggens, I.J.M. de Boer, P. Schmidely

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A meta-analysis was performed to explore the correlation between energy and nitrogen efficiency of dairy cows, and to study nutritional and animal factors that influence these efficiencies, as well as their relationship. Treatment mean values were extracted from 68 peer-reviewed studies, including 306 feeding trials. The main criterion for inclusion of a study in the meta-analysis was that it reported, or permitted calculation of, energy efficiency (Eeff; energy in milk/digestible energy intake) and nitrogen efficiency (Neff; nitrogen in milk/digestible nitrogen intake) at the digestible level (digestible energy or digestible protein). The effect of nutritional and animal variables, including neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber (ADF), digestible energy, digestible protein, proportion of concentrate (PCO), dry matter intake, milk yield, days in milk, and body weight, on Eeff, Neff, and the Neff:Eeff ratio was analyzed using mixed models. The interstudy correlation between Eeff and Neff was 0.62, whereas the intrastudy correlation was 0.30. The higher interstudy correlation was partly due to milk yield and dry matter intake being present in both Eeff and Neff. We, therefore, also explored the Neff:Eeff ratio. Energy efficiency was negatively associated with ADF and PCO, whereas Neff was negatively associated with ADF and digestible energy. The Neff:Eeff ratio was affected by ADF and PCO only. In conclusion, the results indicate a possibility to maximize feed efficiency in terms of both energy and nitrogen at the same time. In other words, an improvement in Eeff would also mean an improvement in Neff. The current study also shows that these types of transverse data are not sufficient to study the effect of animal factors, such as days in milk, on feed efficiency. Longitudinal measurements per animal would probably be more appropriate
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7245-7259
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • residual feed-intake
  • milk protein yield
  • rumen-protected methionine
  • dry-matter intake
  • corn-silage
  • metabolizable protein
  • dietary-protein
  • alfalfa silage
  • beef-cattle
  • forage

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