Effect of essential oils on ruminal fermentation and lactation performance of dairy cows

J. A. Tekippe, R. Tacoma, A. N. Hristov, C. Lee, J. Oh, K. S. Heyler, T. W. Cassidy, G. A. Varga, D. Bravo

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40 Scopus citations


Three experiments (Exp.) were conducted to study the effects of dietary addition of an essential oil product (EO) based on eugenol and cinnamaldehyde (0, control, or 525. mg/d of Xtract 6965; Pancosma SA, Geneva, Switzerland) on ruminal fermentation, total-tract digestibility, manure gas emissions, N losses, and dairy cow performance. In Exp. 1 and 3, the EO supplement was added to the vitamin-mineral premix. In Exp. 2, EO was top-dressed. Experiments 1 and 2 were crossover designs with 20 multiparous Holstein cows each (including 4 and 8 ruminally cannulated cows, respectively) and consisted of two 28-d periods. Intake of dry matter did not differ between treatments. Most ruminal fermentation parameters were unaffected by EO. Concentrations of ammonia (Exp. 1), isobutyrate (Exp. 1 and 2), and isovalerate (Exp. 1) were increased by EO compared with the control. Apparent total-tract digestibility of nutrients was similar between treatments, except total-tract digestibility of neutral-detergent fiber, which was increased or tended to be increased by EO in Exp. 1 and 2. Manure emissions of ammonia and methane were unaffected by EO. Blood plasma and milk urea-N concentrations and urinary N losses were increased by EO compared with the control in Exp. 1, but not in Exp. 2. Average milk yield, 3.5% fat-corrected milk yield, and milk fat, protein, and lactose concentrations were unaffected by treatment. Urinary excretion of purine derivatives, a marker for microbial protein production in the rumen, was greater in cows receiving the EO diet in Exp. 1, but not in Exp. 2. In Exp. 3, 120 Holstein cows were grouped in pens of 20 cows/pen in a 12-wk experiment to study production effects of EO. Dry matter intake, milk yield (a trend for a slight decrease with EO), milk components, milk urea N, and feed efficiency were similar between treatments. Results from these studies indicate that supplementing dairy cows with 525. mg/d of Xtract 6965 had moderate effects on ruminal fermentation, but consistently increased ruminal isobutyrate concentration and tended to increase total-tract digestibility of neutral-detergent fiber. Under the conditions of these experiments, Xtract 6965 fed at 525. mg/d did not affect milk production or composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7892-7903
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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