Monitoring the Nutritional and Reproductive State of Dairy Cows Through the Presence of Urea in Milk
The concentration of urea in the milk of 510 dairy cows in 10 herds was determined at regular intervals for a year. The herds contained approximately equal numbers of Swedish Red and White, and Swedish Holstein cows. The mean +/- sd concentration in the samples from individual cows was 5.32 +/- 1.13 mmol/l, and the mean concentration in bulk milk was 5.39 +/- 0.96 mmol/l. These values indicated that on average the herds were fed too much protein relative to their intake of energy throughout the year. Herd factors had a strong influence on the milk urea concentration. The concentration was lower during the first month of lactation than later in the lactation, and lower when the cows were housed during the winter than when they were grazing. There was a weak positive relationship between the daily milk yield and urea concentration, particularly during late lactation, but there was no relationship with either breed or age. Bulk milk urea was a reliable guide to the average urea concentration of a herd.