The association between milk urea nitrogen and DHI production variables in western commercial dairy herds

R G Johnson, A J Young
Journal of Dairy Science 2003, 86 (9): 3008-15
A retrospective observational study was conducted using data from Dairy Herd Improvement monthly tests to investigate the association between milk urea nitrogen (MUN) concentration and milk yield, milk protein, milk fat percentage, SCC, and parity for commercial Holstein and Jersey herds in Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Mean MUN for Holstein cows was 15.5 mg/ dl (5.5 mmol/L) MUN and 14.1 mg/dl (5.0 mmol/L) for Jersey cows. Mean MUN, categorized by 30-d increments of days in milk (DIM), paralleled changes in milk values and followed a curvilinear shape. For Holstein cows, concentrations of MUN were different among lactation groups 1, 2, and 3+ for the first 90 DIM for Holsteins. Overall, concentrations of MUN were lower during for the first 30 DIM compared with all other DIM categories for both Holstein and Jersey cows. Multivariate regression models of MUN by milk protein showed that as the milk protein percentage increased, MUN concentration decreased; however, models for Jersey cows showed that MUN did not decrease significantly until above 3.4% milk protein. Milk fat percentage also decreased as MUN increased, but by only 1 mg/dl MUN over the range of 2.2 to 5.8% milk fat. Somatic cell count showed a negative relationship with MUN. Holstein cows with milk protein percentage >3.2% had lower MUN compared with cows having milk protein <3.2% for milk yields from 27.3 to 54.5 kg/d and lower than cows having a milk protein <3.0% for milk yield of 54.5 to 63.6 kg/d. In Jersey cows, MUN concentrations were not different among milk protein percentage categorized by milk yield. This study found that MUN was inversely associated with milk protein percentage and paralleled change in milk yield over time.

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