The objective of this trial was to evaluate the effects of three different dietary levels of urea on milk yield and composition. Nine lactating Holstein cows were randomly assigned to three replicated 3 x 3 Latin squares with three periods of 21 days each. Treatments were: A) control diet formulated to meet 100% of the requirements of crude protein (CP), rumen undegradable protein (RUP) and rumen degradable protein (RDP) according to the NRC (2001) model by feeding soybean meal and sugar cane; B) replacing soybean meal with 0.75% urea; or C) replacing soybean meal with 1.5% urea. Diets were formulated to be isonitrogenous (16% CP) and isocaloric (1.53 Mcal/kg of NEl). No significant differences in dry matter intake, milk yield, 3.5% fat corrected milk, yields of milk protein and milk fat, and somatic cell count were observed among treatments when data were analyzed by simple polynomial regression. Milk cryoscopy, pH and density were also not affected by increasing the proportion of urea in the diet treatments; however, milk acidity decreased linearly when the levels of urea were increased in the diet. Milk contents of protein, fat, lactose, total solids and non-solids fat and concentration of milk urea all did not differ across diets. Results obtained in this trial indicated that the inclusion of up to 1.5% of urea (% of diet DM) in the diet had no effect on milk yield, milk composition, and milk physical-chemical characteristics in lactating cows.
dry matter intake; milk yield and composition; non protein nitrogen; sugarcane; urea