Tropical pastures fertilized with nitrogen may have high crude protein (CP) contents with high rumen degradability. High crude protein concentrates offered to cows grazing these pastures may increase feed costs without positive effects on their performance. The objectives of this trial were to evaluate the effects of increasing metabolizable protein (MP) supply beyond the NRC (2001) recommendations for mid lactating dairy cows grazing elephant grass pasture (Pennisetum purpureum Schum. cv. Napier) managed with high stocking rates. Three concentrates (6.3 kg DM-1 cow-1 day-1) were evaluated: control (17%CP) was adjusted in relation to MP according to the NRC (2001); the other two contained extra soybean meal, to increase the CP content to 21.2% (CP) and 25.0% (CP). Twelve multiparous Holstein cows, averaging 150 days of milk production at a rate of 19.5 kg of milk day-1, were used in a 3 × 3 latin square design, replicated four times. Forage consumption was 11,270 kg DM ha-1 with 34% of green leaves and 12% CP. Milk production, corrected to 3.5% fat, milk fat, protein, lactose and total solids contents were not affected by treatments (P > 0.05). Milk urea nitrogen and plasma urea nitrogen increased linearly (P < 0.05) as the MP supply increased. Treatments did not affect (P > 0.05) body weight gain, body condition score, grazing time, ruminating time, resting time, rectal temperature and respiratory rate. Crude protein content in the concentrate formulated according to NRC (2001) is adequate for mid lactating cows grazing tropical pastures.
concentrates; milk production; protein content; tropical pastures