Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Animal Science

First Advisor

Dr. David L. Harmon


The objective of this research was to investigate the effects of slow release urea on N metabolism in cattle. The ruminal behavior of Optigen®II and the effect of basal diet on the in situ degradability of urea and Optigen®II were evaluated. The effect of slow release urea and its interaction with degradable intake protein (DIP) level in the diet on N retention and excretion was evaluated utilizing 8 Holstein steers in a 4 x 4 Latin square experiment. In addition, the effect of slow release urea and DIP level on ruminal and systemic urea kinetics was evaluated using stable isotope techniques with 8 Holstein steers in a 4 x 4 Latin square experiment. Finally, slow release urea was evaluated under a practical beef production setting. The performance of slow release urea was compared to regular feed grade urea in a 42 day receiving study (288 Angus cross steers) as well as a 70 day growing study (240 Angus cross steers). High forage diets increased the ruminal degradation rate of both urea and slow release urea an increased the extent of degradation of slow release urea when compared to high concentrate diets. Lower DIP concentrations in the diet reduced systemic urea production, ruminal ammonia and plasma urea concentrations and urinary urea excretion under most circumstances but also led to a reduction in N retention, reduced diet digestibility, lower feed intake, lower growth rate and decreased feed efficiency. High DIP intakes increased N retention, growth rate, diet digestibility and improved feed efficiency but also lead to increased excretion on urea N in the urine. Slow release urea improved N retention and efficiency of N retention in high DIP diets when compared to urea and generally reduced plasma urea and ruminal ammonia concentrations. Compared to urea, slow release urea did not significantly improve the production of receiving cattle. However Optigen®II improved the feed efficiency when compared to urea on high concentrate diets but reduced feed efficiency on high forage diets.