1st Page



This article in

  1. Vol. 85 No. 8, p. 1982-1989
    Received: June 27, 2006
    Published: December 8, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):


Prediction of nitrogen excretion in feces and urine of beef cattle offered diets containing grass silage1

  1. T. Yan2,
  2. J. P. Frost,
  3. T. W. J. Keady3,
  4. R. E. Agnew and
  5. C. S. Mayne
  1. Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Large Park, Hillsborough, Co Down BT26 6DR, UK


Data from 286 beef cattle, obtained in total diet digestibility assessments, were used to examine effects of dietary and animal factors on N excretion in feces and urine and to develop prediction equations for N excretion in beef cattle. The animals used were mainly from beef breeds, at various ages (from growth to finishing) and live BW (153 to 580 kg), and offered diets containing grass silage at production feeding levels. Dietary forage proportion ranged from 199 to 1,000 g/kg of DM and dietary CP concentration from 108 to 217 g/kg of DM. Linear and multiple regression techniques were used to examine relationships between the efficiency of N utilization and dietary and animal variables with the experimental effects removed. The statistical analysis indicated that N excretion was related positively (P < 0.001) to live BW and intakes of DM, N, and ME, and negatively (P < 0.001) to dietary forage proportion. The prediction equation for N excretion, developed using N intake alone, produced a large r2 (0.898) and a small SE (12.3). Addition of live BW and forage proportion as supporting predictors to this relationship only marginally increased R2 to 0.915 and reduced SE to 11.2. Nitrogen excretion was less well related to live BW (r2 = 0.771, SE = 18.5) than to N intake. Addition of N intake as a proportion of DMI or ME intake to the relationship between live BW and N excretion increased R2 to 0.824 and reduced SE to 16.2. The internal validation of these equations revealed that using N intake as the primary predictor produced a very accurate prediction of N excretion. In situations where data on N intake are not available, prediction equations based on live BW and dietary N concentration together can produce a relatively accurate assessment of N excretion. A number of mitigation strategies to reduce N excretion in feces and urine in beef cattle are discussed, including manipulation of dietary N concentration, diet quality, and level of feeding. The prediction equations and mitigation strategies developed in the current study provide an approach for beef producers to quantify N excretion against production and to develop their own mitigation strategies to reduce N excretion.

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