Effects of essential oils on digestion, ruminal fermentation, rumen microbial populations, milk production, and milk composition in dairy cows fed alfalfa silage or corn silage.J Dairy Sci. 2007 Feb; 90(2):886-97.JD
Four Holstein cows fitted with ruminal cannulas were used in a 4 x 4 Latin square design (28-d periods) with a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement of treatments to investigate the effects of addition of a specific mixture of essential oil compounds (MEO; 0 vs. 750 mg/d) and silage source [alfalfa silage (AS) vs. corn silage (CS)] on digestion, ruminal fermentation, rumen microbial populations, milk production, and milk composition. Total mixed rations containing either AS or CS as the sole forage source were balanced to be isocaloric and isonitrogenous. In general, no interactions between MEO addition and silage source were observed. Except for ruminal pH and milk lactose content, which were increased by MEO supplementation, no changes attributable to the administration of MEO were observed for feed intake, nutrient digestibility, end-products of ruminal fermentation, microbial counts, and milk performance. Dry matter intake and milk production were not affected by replacing AS with CS in the diet. However, cows fed CS-based diets produced milk with lower fat and higher protein and urea N concentrations than cows fed AS-based diets. Replacing AS with CS increased the concentration of NH(3)-N and reduced the acetate-to-propionate ratio in ruminal fluid. Total viable bacteria, cellulolytic bacteria, and protozoa were not influenced by MEO supplementation, but the total viable bacteria count was higher with CS- than with AS-based diets. The apparent digestibility of crude protein did not differ between the AS and CS treatments, but digestibilities of neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber were lower when cows were fed CS-based diets than when they were fed AS-based diets. Duodenal bacterial N flow, estimated using urinary purine derivatives and the amount of N retained, increased in cows fed CS-based diets compared with those fed AS-based diets. Feeding cows AS increased the milk fat contents of cis-9, trans-11 18:2 (conjugated linoleic acid) and 18:3 (n-3 fatty acid) compared with feeding cows CS. Results from this study showed limited effects of MEO supplementation on nutrient utilization, ruminal fermentation, and milk performance when cows were fed diets containing either AS or CS as the sole forage source.