The effect of dietary crude protein and phosphorus on grass-fed dairy cow production, nutrient status, and milk heat stability

M. Reid*, M. O'Donovan, C. T. Elliott, J. S. Bailey, C. J. Watson, S. T.J. Lalor, B. Corrigan, M. A. Fenelon, E. Lewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Dietary crude protein (CP) and phosphorus (P) have the potential to alter dairy cow production, nutrient status, and milk heat stability, specifically in early lactation. This study examined the effect of supplementary concentrates with different CP and P concentrations on blood N and P status and on milk yield, composition, and heat stability. The concentrates [4. kg of dry matter (DM) concentrate per cow daily] were fed to grazing dairy cows (13. kg DM grass) during early lactation. Forty-eight spring-calving dairy cows were allocated to 4 treatments: high CP, high P (HPrHP; 302. g/kg DM CP, 6.8. g/kg DM P), medium CP, high P (MPrHP; 202. g/kg DM CP, 4.7. g/kg DM P), low CP, high P (LPrHP; 101. g/kg DM CP, 5.1. g/kg DM P), and low CP, low P (LPrLP; 101. g/kg DM CP, 0.058. g/kg DM P), for 8. wk. Levels of N excretion were significantly higher in animals fed the HPrHP and MPrHP concentrates; P excretion was significantly lower in animals fed the LPrLP concentrate. Reducing the level of P in the diet (LPrLP concentrate) resulted in a significantly lower blood P concentration, whereas milk yield and composition (fat and protein) were not affected by either CP or P in the diet. The effect of the interaction between treatment and time on milk urea N was significant, reflecting the positive correlation between dietary CP and milk nonprotein N. Increasing supplementary CP and P (HPrHP) in the diet resulted in significantly lower milk heat stability at pH 6.8. The findings show that increasing dietary CP caused a decrease in milk heat stability, which reduced the suitability of milk for processing. The study also found that increasing dietary CP increased milk urea N and milk nonprotein N. Increasing dietary P increased fecal P excretion. These are important considerations for milk processors and producers for control of milk processing and environmental parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-531
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2015


  • Milk heat stability
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Supplementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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