Metabolic and productive response to ruminal protein degradability in early lactation cows fed untreated or xylose-treated soybean meal-based diets

J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2009 Dec;93(6):777-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2008.00867.x.


Effects of different dietary rumen undegradable (RUP) to degradable (RDP) protein ratios on ruminal nutrient degradation, feed intake, blood metabolites and milk production were determined in early lactation cows. Four multiparous (43 ± 5 days in milk) and four primiparous (40 ± 6 days in milk) tie-stall-housed Holstein cows were used in a duplicated 4 × 4 Latin square design with four 21-day periods. Each period had 14-day of adaptation and 7-day of sampling. Diets contained on a dry matter (DM) basis, 23.3% alfalfa hay, 20% corn silage and 56.7% concentrate. Cows were first offered alfalfa hay at 7:00, 15:00 and 23:00 hours, and 30 min after each alfalfa hay delivery were offered a mixture of corn silage and concentrate. Treatments were diets with RUP:RDP ratios of (i) 5.2:11.6 (control), (ii) 6.1:10.6, (iii) 7.1:9.5 and (iv) 8.1:8.5, on a dietary DM% basis. Different RUP:RDP ratios were obtained by partial and total replacement of untreated soybean meal (SBM) with xylose-treated SBM (XSBM). In situ study using three rumen-cannulated non-lactating cows showed that DM and crude protein (CP) of SBM had greater rapidly degradable fractions. The potentially degradable fractions were degraded more slowly in XSBM. Treatment cows produced greater milk, protein, lactose, solids-non-fat and total solids than control cows. Increasing RUP:RDP reduced blood urea linearly. Feed costs dropped at RUP:RDP ratios of 6.1:10.6 and 7.1:9.5, but not at 8.1:8.5, compared with the 5.2:11.6 ratio. Intake of DM and CP, rumen pH, blood glucose, albumin and total protein, faecal and urine pH, changes in body weight and body condition score, and milk lactose and solids-non-fat percentages did not differ among treatments. Results provide evidence that increasing dietary RUP:RDP ratio from 5.2:11.6 to 7.1:9.5 optimizes nitrogen metabolism and milk production and reduces feed costs in early lactation cows. Reduced blood urea suggests reprodutive benefits.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Cattle*
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Glycine max / chemistry
  • Glycine max / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Metalloporphyrins / chemistry
  • Rumen / physiology*
  • Xylose / chemistry*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Metalloporphyrins
  • iron chlorin e(6)
  • Xylose