Livestock Research for Rural Development 20 (11) 2008 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Effect of substituting concentrate mixture by Urea Molasses Mineral Block on protozoal production rates in Murrah buffalo calves

S P Tiwari, K Kumari, U K Mishra, M K Gendley and R Gupta

Department of Animal Nutrition, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry,Durg - 491 001 (Chhattisgarh), India


Fifteen rumen fistulated male Murrah calves (1-11/2 yrs) were divided into 5 groups of 3 each. Group I was fed rice straw alone with 40 g mineral mixture daily. Group II was provided concentrate mixture to meet the requirements at maintenance level while in groups III, IV and V concentrate mixture was replaced by three types Urea Molasses Mineral Block (UMMB) 'Ex', 'C' and 'D' offered free choice, respectively.


Dry matter intake (kg/day) was significantly lower in group I as compared to other groups due to low palatability of feeds. Non-availability of starch lowers the production rate of protozoa in group I. Supplementation of nutrients in the form of UMMB licks increased the protozoa production rates, however, the values were lower than in group II (concentrate fed). Higher values in the group II (9.1▒0.6) were probably due to the availability of starch from the ingredients which was not sufficiently available from UMMB.


Hence, UMMB supplementation of straw based diets decreased the protozoa production rates.

Key words: concentrate, licks, palatability, starch, supplementation


Urea and molasses both are well known constituents for improving the utilization of straw (poor quality roughage) based diets (Campling et al 1962; Gupta et al 1970). However, these are not adopted as a common practice by farmers because of the constraints associated with their use. Urea toxicity (Mehra et al 1987) due to improper mixing and limited availability of the molasses are major constraints (Preston  1972). To overcome these constraints UMMB is formed by mixing urea, molasses with some protein source and mineral mixture. These blocks (Mangat Ram and Kunju 1986) are being used, to replace concentrate mixture at maintenance level. The supplementation of UMMB caused rapid DM digestion due to effective colonization by the ruminal microflora (Manget Ram 1989). It is reported that UMMB based rations (Kunju 1986) resulted into considerably higher rates of bacterial production as compared to UMMB unsupplemented diet. In contrast, protozoan production rate was about halved in UMMB- supplemented groups when compared with concentrate – supplemented groups. This could be due to partial defaunating effect of either UMMB lick ingredients in general or sodium bentonite in particular (Manget Ram 1989; Mohini 1991). In the present study, the effect of UMMB feeding on protozoal production rate was studied.


Materials and methods  

Fifteen rumen fistulated Murrah calves (1-11/2 yrs) were divided into 5 groups of 3 each in a randomized block design. Group I was fed rice straw ad libitum with mineral mixture at the rate of 40 g/d. Group II was provided rice straw ad libitum and concentrate mixture (ground nut cake 27, maize 30, wheat bran 40, mineral mixture 2 and salt 1 part) to meet the protein and energy requirements (NRC 2001) at maintenance level. In groups III, IV, and V concentrate mixture was replaced with three types of UMMB namely 'Ex', 'C' and 'D' free choice, respectively. The composition of various blocks is given in Table 1.

Table 1.  Composition of UMMB licks


Urea molasses mineral block












Mineral mixture








Calcite powder




Sodium bentonite




Cotton seed meal




Ground nut extraction




UMMB ‘Ex’: urea molasses mineral block without ground nut extraction
UMMB ‘C’: urea molasses mineral block with ground nut extraction and cotton seed meal
UMMB ‘D’: urea molasses mineral block without cotton seed meal

The UMMB was developed by “cold process” technology in which molasses was added into the mixture without any heating to avoid the use of heavy and expensive equipments. The ingredients (Table 1) were mixed in the following order: water, urea, salt, mineral mixture, calcite powder, sodium bentonite, molassess, cotton seed meal and ground nut extraction. Water was added at the rate of one third of the weight of calcite powder and sodium bentonite mix to wet it completely. The mixture was then transferred to specially designed moulds to form blocks. The blocks were allowed to settle for a period of 24 hours.


The chemical composition of feeds is given in Table 2.

Table 2.   Chemical composition of feeds (% DM basis)


Rice straw

Concentrate mixture





























Total ash












UMMB ‘Ex’ : urea molasses mineral block without ground nut extraction
UMMB ‘C’ : urea molasses mineral block with ground nut extraction and cotton seed meal
UMMB ‘D’ : urea molasses mineral block without cotton seed meal.

After 90 days of preliminary feeding, the ruminal protozoal status of the animals was studied by taking total counts of protozoa (Langar et al 1968) consecutively for 3 days at 0, 2, 4 and 6 hour post feeding. DM intake and water intake were recorded daily. For estimation of protozoal production rates, daily ration was divided in 12 equal parts and offered at 2 hour intervals to achieve a near steady state in the rumen. Two hourly feeding was started 48 hour before infusion of 14C-choline. 14C-methyl choline was used to estimate protozoa production rate. Protozoa were first label1ed by incubating 14C-choline with freshly drawn rumen liquor from individual animals followed by separation (Leng 1982) of labeled protozoa from incubated rumen liquor. Labeled protozoa were suspended in the fresh rumen liquor and infused in the rumen. Samples of rumen liquor were collected after 2 hour of infusion at hourly intervals for 7 hours. From the collected rumen liquor samples of protozoa were isolated and radioactivity was counted using scintillation f1uid (Singh and Leng 1987). Protozoal pool and production rates were also calculated (Leng et al 1981). Data was analyzed statistically (Snedecor and Cochran 1987).


Results and discussion  

Depending upon the results of earlier experiments the composition of UMMB was modified. Increase in protein in the form of ground nut cake and cotton seed meal increased the nitrogen per cent in UMMB 'C' and 'D' and total ash content decreased because of the decrease in the mineral mixture and salt in the licks. Ground nut cake was included to provide the peptide links and carbohydrates which results in better environment for microbial growth. Body weights of the animals in group I reduced because of the non- availability of sufficient nutrients mainly nitrogen and starch, however, no differences were observed among groups II, III, IV and V. Total dry matter intake (kg/d) was also higher significantly (P<0.01) in the groups supplemented with concentrate mixture or UMMB as compared to group I (Table 3).

Table 3.   Dry matter intake in different groups


I  (Rice straw)

II  (Rice straw + (Concentrate mixture)

III  (Rice straw
+ UMMB ‘Ex’)

IV  (Rice straw + UMMB’C’)

V  (Rice straw + UMMB ‘D’)

Body weight, kg






 Straw intake, kg/d






Concentrate mixture, kg






UMMB, kg






Total **, kg






DMI**, Kg/100 kg bodyweight






DMI**, g/w0.75 kg






a, b, c figures bearing different superscripts in a row differ significantly

** significant at 1% level.

UMMB ‘Ex’: urea molasses mineral block without ground nut extraction,
UMMB ‘C’ : urea molasses mineral block with ground nut extraction and cotton seed meal,
UMMB ‘D’ : urea molasses mineral block without cotton seed meal.

Among groups II, III, IV and V, group III showed higher intake as compared to other groups, though non-significantly. However, dry matter intake kg/100 kg body wt. and g/kg w0.75 were not different significantly among groups II, III, IV, and V.  


Protozoal counts are depicted in Table 4. Total counts were significantly lower in group I as compared to other groups at all time intervals.

Table 4.  Protozoal counts* in various groups







I  (Rice straw)

0.61aX 105

0.72aX 105

0.85aX 1 

1.03aX 105

II  (Rice straw+ Concentrate mixture)

1.79cX 105

2.31cX 105

3.13cX 105

3.25cX 105

III  (Rice straw +UMMB ‘Ex’)

1.13bX 105

1.74bX 105

2.68bX 105

2.88bX 105

IV  (Rice Straw+ UMMB ‘C’)

1.36bX 105

2.01bX 105

2.89bX 105

3.08bX 105

V (Rice straw+UMMB ‘D’)

1.30bX 105

1.86bX 105

2.86bX 105

3.00bX 105

a, b, c figures bearing different superscripts in a row differ significantly

* significant at 5% level

UMMB ‘Ex’ : urea molasses mineral block without ground nut extraction,
UMMB ‘C’ : urea molasses mineral block with ground nut extraction and cotton seed meal,
UMMB ‘D’ : urea molasses mineral block without cotton seed meal

Numbers of protozoa were lower before feeding and increased with time after feeding irrespective of the treatment effect (Leng et al 1981). Among supplemented groups (concentrate mixture or UMMB) the protozoa number was significantly (P<0.05) higher in group II (concentrate supplemented ) as compared to groups IV and V. Increased availability of soluble carbohydrates increased protozoal population in concentrate and UMMB supplemented groups (Meyer et al 1986).  Lower population in UMMB fed groups was probably due to less availability of nutrients or the presence of some chemicals (bentonite) which is reported to affect the protozoan population and increase wool production in sheep (Forster and Leng 1988).


Though the average dose of 14C-choline through labeled protozoa infused in the different groups was not different significantly, the values of pool size of Protozoal N (g) were significantly (P<0.01) higher in the supplemented groups. Protozoa production rates were significantly higher in group II than other groups while no significant differences were observed among groups III, IV and V (Table 5).

Table 5.   Protozoa production rates in various treatments


I  (Rice straw)

II  (Rice straw + Concentrate mixture)

III  (Rice straw + UMMB ‘Ex’)

IV  (Rice straw
+ UMMB’C’)

V  (Rice straw
+ UMMB ‘D’)

Dose injected, Áci






Specific radio-activity**






0 h (Áci/mg Nx 10-2)‘m’value x 10-2






Pool size**, g N






Production rate**, gN/day






g N/kg DOMI*






a, b, c figures with different superscripts in a row differ significant
* significant at 5% level, ** significant at 1% level
UMMB ‘Ex’: urea molasses mineral block without ground nut extraction,
UMMB ‘C’ : urea molasses mineral block with ground nut extraction and cotton seed meal,
UMMB ‘D’ : urea molasses mineral block without cotton seed meal.

When production rates are depicted in terms of per kg digestible organic matter intake a similar trend was observed. Supplementation of nutrients in the form of concentrate mixture or urea molasses block to rice straw alone had significantly (P<0.01) improved the protozoal production rates.


Inclusion of UMMB in the diet of rice straw alone had improved the rumen environment which was clearly depicted in the increase of DMI. Inclusion of urea as such (Campling et al 1962) and in the form of UMBB (Tiwari 1988) licks had shown an increase in DMI in cattle. Intake of both total DM as well as that of straw increased on increase of nutrients availability from UMMB. Straw intake was still higher as compared to the group given concentrate mixture that is because UMMB dry matter was only 10 per cent of the total DMI while concentrate provided about 40 per cent. However, DMI/100 kg body wt was not different significantly. The increase in the protozoal population as well as their production rate was also attributed to the enhanced availability of nutrients. Due to lack of sufficient soluble carbohydrate usually on roughage diets, the biomass of microbes was reported approximately l/10th of that observed on mixed diets (Jouany 1988).


On feeding wheat straw alone, the protozoa production rate was 1/12th of the production rates observed on mixed diets by another group of workers (Manget Ram 1989; Mohini 1991). The availability of short chain dextrin (Denvis et al 1983), fructosans (Broderick and Craig 1980), saccharose (Garg et al 1992) and molasses (Meyer et al 1986) are known to increase the protozoal population. Although the sugars available from UMMB in groups III, IV and V were sufficient but the availability of starch as such was lower than that available through concentrate mixture in group II which could explain the low protozoal production rate in UMMB fed groups. Similar trend was also observed in cattle (Denvis et al 1983). However, the values were lower as compared to that obtained in buffalo. Feeding of sugar cane based diet also reduced the protozoa production rate in cattle (2.8 and 7.5 g N/d) as reported earlier (Garg et al 1992; Leng et al 1984).These results also showed the importance of starch granules for protozoa production in the rumen. However, bentonite had also been reported to affect the protozoal status (Forster and Leng 1988) which was used as a binder in manufacturing of UMMB.


Thus, these results depicted that the use of UMMB in place of concentrate mixture can maintain the animals without showing any adverse effect on dry matter intake. However, it also caused semi defaunation which further provided the benefits of defaunation.



Broderick G A and Craig W M 1980 Effect of Heat Treatment on Ruminal Degradation and Escape, and Intestinal Digestibility of Cottonseed Meal Protein. Journal of Nutrition 110 (12): 2381-2389


Campling R C, Frear M and Balch C C 1962 Factors affecting the voluntary intake of food by cows: 3. The effect of urea on the voluntary intake of straw. British Journal of Nutrition 16: 115-124


Denvis S M, Armbel M J, Bartley E E and Dayton A D 1983 Effect of Energy Concentration and Source of Nitrogen on Numbers and Types of Rumen Protozoa. Journal of Dairy Science 66: 1248 -1254


Forster R J and Leng R A 1988 In: The Role of Protozoa and Fungi in Ruminant Digestion, University of New England, Armidale: 331-332


Garg M  R, Gupta, B N and Singh G P 1992 Effect on incorporating urea molasses mineral block lick in the diet of crossbred calves on the protozoal production rate in the rumen. Journal of Nuclear Agriculture and Biology 21(4): 318-325


Gupta B N, Khan S A and Murthy V N 1970 Rumen digestion studies on feeding urea   molasses enriched cereal straws to adult ruminants. Indian Veterinary Journal 47: 773-780


Jouany J P 1988 In: The Role of Protozoa and Fungi in Ruminant. Digestion, University of New England, Armidale


Kunju  P J G  1986  Urea molasses block lick: A future animal feed supplement.  Asian Livestock 11: 154–157


Langar P N, Sidhu G S and Bhatia I S  1968 A study of the microbial population in the ruminal of buffalo (Bos Bubalis) and Zebu (Bos indicus) on a feeding regimen deficient in carbohydrates. Indian Journal of Veterinary Science 38: 333-336


Leng R A 1982 Dynamics of protozoa in the rumen of sheep. British Journal of Nutrition 48(2): 399–415


Leng R A, Gill M, Kempton T Y, Rowe I B, Nolan J V, Stachia S J and Preston T R 1981 Kinetics of large ciliate protozoa in the rumen of cattle given sugar cane diets. British Journal of Nutrition 46: 371-384


Leng R A, Nolan J V, Cumming G, Edwards S R and Graham C A 1984 The effects of monensin on the pool size and turnover rate of protozoa in the rumen of sheep. Journal of Agricultural Science (Cambridge) 102: 609-612


Manget Ram  1989 Effect of supplementing straw-based diet with urea-molasses mineral block   licks on rumen fermentation pattern, nutrient utilization and growth in crossbred cattle. Ph.D. Thesis, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, India


Mangat Ram and Kunju P J G 1986 Effect of incorporating concentrate mixture with urea molasses mineral block feeding on ruminal metabolites and digesta flow rates in buffalo calves. Indian Journal of Animal Nutrition 3 (4): 244-248


Mehra U R, Tiwari S P and Singh U B 1987 Ammonia production and Toxicity in Ruminants. In: Advanced Animal Nutrition in Developing Countries (U B Singh, Editor).Indo vision Pvt. Ltd., Ghaziabad, India: pp.178-183


Meyer R M, Bartley E E, Deepe C W and Colenbrander V F 1986 The influence of diet and protozal numbers on the breakdown and synthesis of protein in the rumen of sheep. Journal of Animal Science 62: 509 – 520


Mohini  M 1991 Effect of urea molasses mineral block supplementation to straw based diets on fibre degradability, rumen fermentation pattern and nutrient utilization and growth in buffalo calves. Ph.D. Thesis, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, India


N R C  2001 Nutrient Requirements of Dairy cattle, Seventh revised edition. National academy of Science – National Research council, Washing, D C.


Preston T R 1972 Molasses as an energy source for cattle. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics 17: 250-258


Singh G P and Leng R A 1987 Effect of altering the rumen fluid out flow on the protozal population and production rate in sheep. Indian Journal of Animal Nutrition 4 (3): 155-160


Snedecor G W and Cochran WG 1987 Statistical Methods 16th edition. Allied Pacific, Bombay


Tiwari S P 1988  Ph.D. Thesis, Studies on solidified urea molasses mineral based block licks in buffalo calves fed poor quality crop-residues  Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar

Received 11 May 2008; Accepted 4 August 2008; Published 6 November 2008

Go to top