Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Animal Science 1998. 76:242–248. Copyright © 1998 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Two finishing trials and a metabolism trial were conducted to evaluate level of supplemental degradable intake (crude) protein (DIP) in finishing diets on cattle performance, carcass characteristics, and ruminal metabolism. Finishing trials were conducted in two consecutive years using 128 crossbred yearling steers (BW = 343 ± 5 kg, Trial 1) and 176 crossbred yearling steers (BW = 375 ± 4 kg, Trial 2) in a randomized complete block design. Steers were fed dry-rolled corn diets containing urea at 0, .88, 1.34, or 1.96% (DM basis). No differences in DMI, daily gain, or feed efficiency were noted among steers receiving diets containing supplemental urea. However, steers fed diets supplemented with urea were 5.4% more efficient ( P < .01) and gained 6.6% faster ( P < .01) than steers receiving no supplemental urea. Metabolizable protein (MP) content of all diets exceeded the steers’ requirements. However, diets containing no urea were deficient in DIP. In the metabolism trial, four ruminally fistulated steers (BW = 380 ± 22 kg) were used in a 4 ´ 4 Latin square design and fed (ad libitum) diets similar to those used in the finishing trials. Nitrogen intake and ruminal ammonia N concentration increased linearly ( P < .05) with increasing level of urea supplementation. Diets containing no supplemental urea were calculated to be deficient in DIP, resulting in reduced bacterial synthesis. Results indicate that dry-rolled corn finishing diets containing no supplemental N are deficient in ruminally degradable N. Supplementing these diets with an inexpensive source of ruminally degradable N improved animal performance. However, supplementation with urea above .88% was not beneficial.