Monitoring Nutritional Status of Dairy Cows in Taiwan Using Milk Protein and Milk Urea Nitrogen

  • Received : 2000.03.08
  • Accepted : 2000.06.01
  • Published : 2000.12.01


The climate and marketing system of raw milk in Taiwan create problems in balance feeding of protein and energy in lactating cows in Taiwan. Level of urea nitrogen both in bulk milk and serum reflects ruminal protein degradation and post-ruminal protein provision, whereas milk protein concentration responds to dietary energy intake and bacterial protein production in the rumen. Establishment of a range of reference standards in milk protein and urea nitrogen levels can be applied as a noninvasive economical feeding guide to monitor the balance of protein and energy intake. Standard reference levels of 3.0% milk protein and 11-17 mg/dL milk urea nitrogen (MUN) were established. Level of milk protein below 3.0% is regarded as indicating inadequate dietary energy whereas MUN below or above the range is regarded as a deficiency or surplus in dietary protein. Results from analysis of bulk a milk samples collected from 174 dairy herds over Taiwan showed that only one quarter (25.29%) of the herds received a balanced intake of protein and energy, 33.33% adequate protein with energy inadequate, 22.99% herds in protein surplus with energy inadequate, 10.35% herds in protein surplus with energy adequate, 4.6% protein deficiency with energy adequate, and 3.45% herds with both protein and energy inadequate. Energy inadequate herds accounted for 60% of the total dairy herds in Taiwan with 56% adequate, 38% surplus and 6% inadequate in protein. In comparing milk sampled from bulk milk on different seasons from Lee-Kang area in the southern Taiwan, the concentrations of milk fat and milk protein were significantly higher in the cool season (February) than in the warm season (August) (p<0.05), whereas the urea nitrogen in the milk was significantly lower in the cool season than in the warm season (p<0.05). This indicated that lactating cows had excess protein and/or inadequate energy intake in the warm season in this area. It appears that the major problem feeding in lactating cows is energy intake shortage, especially during the warm season in Taiwan.


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