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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Ruminant Nutrition

Using blood urea nitrogen to predict nitrogen excretion and efficiency of nitrogen utilization in cattle, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, and rats1


This article in

  1. Vol. 83 No. 4, p. 879-889
    Received: Aug 04, 2004
    Accepted: Jan 04, 2005

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. R. A. Kohn2,
  2. M. M. Dinneen and
  3. E. Russek-Cohen
  1. Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park 20742


The objectives of this study were to evaluate the potential for using blood urea N concentration to predict urinary N excretion rate, and to develop a mathematical model to estimate important variables of N utilization for several different species of farm animals and for rats. Treatment means (n = 251) from 41 research publications were used to develop mathematical relationships. There was a strong linear relationship between blood urea N concentration (mg/100 mL) and rate of N excretion (g•d−1•kg BW−1) for all animal species investigated. The N clearance rate of the kidney (L of blood cleared of urea•d−1•kg BW−1) was greater for pigs and rats than for herbivores (cattle, sheep, goats, horses). A model was developed to estimate parameters of N utilization. Driving variables for the model included blood urea N concentration (mg/100 mL), BW (kg), milk production rate (kg/d), and ADG (kg/d), and response variables included urinary N excretion rate (g/d), fecal N excretion rate (g/d), rate of N intake (g/d), and N utilization efficiency (N in milk and gain per unit of N intake). Prediction errors varied widely depending on the variable and species of animal, with most of the variation attributed to study differences. Blood urea N concentration (mg/100 mL) can be used to predict relative differences in urinary N excretion rate (g/d) for animals of a similar type and stage of production within a study, but is less reliable across animal types or studies. Blood urea N concentration (mg/100 mL) can be further integrated with estimates of N digestibility (g/g) and N retention (g/d) to predict fecal N (g/d), N intake (g/d), and N utilization efficiency (grams of N in milk and meat per gram of N intake). Target values of blood urea N concentration (mg/100 mL) can be backcalculated from required dietary N (g/d) and expected protein digestibility. Blood urea N can be used in various animal species to quantify N utilization and excretion rates.

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