[en] Study on environmental factors influencing the urea content of cow milk in Wallonia (Belgium). The urea content in tank milk is currently assessed in Wallonia (Belgium) for all milk producers by the Comite du lait. A statistical analysis was carried out on 5,675,758 data collected over the 2002-2008 period in order to study the variation in the urea content in milk from cows according to the months of the years and the agronomy areas. The data were analyzed with a linear model (proc GLM) including the fixed effects of the area, the month of sampling, the year and the interactions. The fat and proteins contents in milk were used as covariables. The average urea content in milk over the six years was 258 mg.l(-1). A proportion of 19% of the contents were over 350 mg.l(-1)and 10% over 400 mg.l(-1). The model explained 35% of the variation of the urea content. Within the model, the agronomy area was the most explicative component (44%). It was followed by the area-month interaction (18.6%), the protein content (17.8%) and the month (10.5%). The variation of the urea content in milk could be mainly explained by the differences in the diets offered to the lactating dairy cows according to the agronomy areas. The composition of the diets varies with the crops produced and therefore with the agronomy area. Higher urea contents were observed in areas with a lot of pastures (grazing areas) than in the arable areas. In the grazing areas, feedstuffs higher in protein than in energy are consumed by the cows: the excess of protein is probably the reason for the higher urea content. The feedstuffs produced in the arable areas are more various with more diversified and balanced diets. The season influenced also the urea content, a higher urea content being observed during the summer period as compared with the winter period. The changes could be explained by dietary differences between the indoor winter period and the grazing period in Summer. During the indoor period, the dairy cows are offered normally a complete diet which is more balanced than during the grazing period.
Région wallonne : Direction générale de l'Agriculture - DGA