There are many misconceptions and outright untruths concerning the feeding of non-protein nitrogen (NPN) to cattle. The practice of utilizing NPN sources (urea) in ruminant feed supplements has been long established as safe and has been highly successful over the years in helping cattle utilize low quality forages.
Rumen microbes digest forages for cattle. These microbes breakdown forage proteins and use the resulting nitrogen (N), amino acids and carbohydrates for their own growth and reproduction. This process occurs fairly rapidly since the life cycle of a rumen microbe is rather short. These microbes die and then pass from the rumen to the small intestine where the microbes are easily digested by the cow. These microbes provide a fairly balanced protein level that meets the nutritional needs of most grazing beef animals.
The nutrients in mature grasses and forages are not readily available to meet the nutrition needs of rumen microbes. Fiber-digesting microbes have a nitrogen requirement for growth and production of digestive enzymes. It takes time for the microbes to generate these enzymes needed to break down the cell walls and access cell contents. The more mature the forage, the longer it takes. Providing a small amount of easily digested nitrogen (NPN/urea) allows the microbes to begin their digestion without having to breakdown the protein in the grass as the initial N source. Small amounts of nitrogen (NPN) fed with small amounts of carbohydrates provide rapidly available nutrition to jump start rumen microbes resulting in tremendous improvement in digestibility and intake of low quality forages.
Properly formulated supplements using NPN will most often perform as well as all natural protein supplements. The urea (NPN) in CRYSTALYX® low moisture protein blocks is consumed in small quantities due to multiple meals throughout the day. CRYSTALYX® Low Moisture Blocks provide a readily available energy source as well as minerals and vitamins. The multiple visits an animal makes in a day to a low moisture block are similar to small rain showers throughout the day. Small doses are better adsorbed than one big cloudburst of supplement that can lead to excess urea being wasted as it is excreted in urine.
Grasses do not provide a perfectly balanced diet for your animals. A well-balanced protein supplement including urea can increase the digestibility and utilization of the grass your animals chose to eat. Using urea should lower your costs without decreasing your animal performance. Program your herd for profitability with self-fed CRYSTALYX® Brand protein and mineral supplements for ultimate ease of use and low cost-per-head-per-day delivery of key protein and mineral needs.