Evaluation of urea and dried whey in diets of cows during early lactation.
Thirty-three Holstein cows were fed one of three concentrate mixtures supplemented with all protein (soybean meal), 1% urea, or 1% urea and 30% dried whey from wk 3 through 16 postpartum. Total mixed rations contained 40% (dry matter basis) corn silage, 10% alfalfa hay, and 50% concentrate mixture. Diets were formulated to be isonitrogenous at 16% crude protein, but soluble nitrogen was formulated to be approximately 23, 30, and 42% of total nitrogen. Milk yield was similar (33.8, 33.4, and 33.2 kg/d) for cows fed the three diets, whereas production of 4% fat-corrected milk (29.9, 28.0, and 29.2 kg/d) and solids-corrected milk (30.3, 28.6, and 29.6 kg/d) was higher for cows fed soybean meal and urea-dried whey. Milk fat percentages (3.23, 2.94, and 3.23%) were lower when cows were fed urea, but milk protein (3.10, 3.04, and 3.04%) and solids-not-fat (8.74, 8.79, and 8.81%) were not affected by diet. Dry matter intakes (22.0, 20.2, and 23.1 kg/d) were highest for cows fed urea-dried whey and lowest for cows fed urea. Molar percentages of ruminal acetate (56.6, 50.3, and 50.2%) were highest for cows fed soybean meal, propionate (24.8, 28.6, and 25.0%) was highest for cows fed urea, and butyrate (13.6, 14.4, and 18.4%) was highest for cows fed urea-dried whey. Concentrations of ruminal ammonia (11.8, 20.3, and 13.5 mg/dl) and serum urea (19.5, 22.9, and 16.5 mg/dl) were highest for cows fed urea. Utilization of urea nitrogen for milk production was improved by adding dried whey to diets of early lactation cows.