Effect of supplementing rumen-protected methionine, lysine, and histidine to low-protein diets on the performance and nitrogen balance of dairy cows

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Lowering the dietary protein content can reduce N excretions and NH3 emissions from manure and increase milk N efficiency of dairy cows. However, milk yield (MY) and composition can be compromised due to AA deficiency. Methionine and Lys are known as first limiting EAA for dairy cows, and recently His is also mentioned as limiting, especially in grass-based or low-protein diets. To examine this, a trial was conducted with a 3-wk pre-experimental adaptation period (diet 16.5% crude protein), followed by a depletion period of 4 wk, in which 39 cows (average ± standard deviation: 116 ± 29.3 d in milk, 1.8 ± 1.2 lactations, 638 ± 73.2 kg of body weight, and 32.7 ± 5.75 kg MY/d) received a low-protein diet (CTRL) (14.5% crude protein). Then, taking into account parity, His plasma concentration, and MY, cows were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups during the rumen-protected (RP) AA period of 7 wk; (1) CTRL; (2) CTRL + RP-Met + RP-Lys (MetLys); (3) CTRL + RP-Met + RP-Lys + RP-His (MetLysHis). Products were dosed, assuming requirements for digestible (d) Met, dLys, and dHis being, respectively, 2.4%, 7.0%, and 2.4% of intestinal digestible protein. In the cross-back period of 5 wk, all cows received the CTRL diet. During the last week of each period, a N balance was conducted by collecting total urine and spot samples of feces. Total feces production was calculated using the inert marker TiO2. Statistical analysis was performed with a linear mixed model with cow as random effect and data of the last week of the pre-experimental period used as covariate for the animal performance variables. No effect of supplementing RP-Met and RP-Lys nor RP-Met, RP-Lys, and RP-His on feed intake, milk performance, or milk N efficiency was observed. However, the plasma AA profile indicated additional supply of dMet, dLys, and dHis. Nevertheless, evaluation of the AA uptake relative to the cow's requirements showed that most EAA (exclusive Arg and Thr) were limiting over the whole experiment. Only dHis was sufficiently supplemented during the RP-AA period due to an overestimation of the diet's dMet and dLys supply in the beginning of the trial. The numerically increased milk urea N and urinary N excretion when RP-Met, RP-Lys, and RP-His were added to the low-protein diet suggest an increased catabolism of the excess His.
Translated title of the contributionEffect van de supplementatie van pensbestendig methionine, lysine en histidine aan laag eiwit rantsoenen op de prestaties en stikstofbalans van melkkoeien
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1790-1802
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2023


  • histidine
  • low-protein diet
  • rumen-protected amino acid


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