Dietary urea, exogenous estradiol-17 beta, and nitrogen utilization in Holstein steers fed a low-protein diet Academic Article uri icon


  • The Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System model was used to formulate a low-protein mixed grass hay and corn diet predicted to create a ruminal N deficiency of 33% in 250-kg Holstein steers. Nitrogen metabolism, digestibility and metabolic status responses were compared between this control diet and a similar diet supplemented with 1.7% urea to compensate for the ruminal N deficiency. A 4 4 Latin square design was used to analyze main effects of diet and subcutaneous administration of 500 g estradiol-17 (E2) twice a day. Urea supplementation increased N intake from 60 to 93 g d-1, improved N balance from 10.1 to 17.7 g d-1, and improved total tract digestibility of N, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), organic matter (OM), and dry matter (DM) (all P < 0.05), but there was no effect of urea supplementation on total tract digestibility of non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) and N retention (percent of N intake). Plasma urea N increased fourfold (P < 0.05) and plasma insulin increased from 0.32 to 0.50 ng mL-1 (P = 0.06) when the urea diet was fed. Administration of E2 did not alter N metabolism or plasma metabolites and insulin at either level of protein intake. It is concluded that supplementing a fiber-rich grass-hay-based diet with urea to achieve ruminal N balance increases digestibility of fiber fractions without altering dietary N utilization. Under these nutritional conditions the use of estrogenic growth promoters remains ineffective independent of ruminal N balance. Key words: Steers, nutrition, fiber, urea, estradiol, nitrogen balance

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Knaus, W. F., Beermann, D. H., Tedeschi, L. O., Guiroy, P. J., Boehm, M. L., & Fox, D. G.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Knaus, WF||Beermann, DH||Tedeschi, LO||Guiroy, PJ||Boehm, ML||Fox, DG

publication date

  • September 2003