A blend of essential plant oils used as an additive to alter silage fermentation or used as a feed additive for lactating dairy cows.J Dairy Sci. 2008 Dec; 91(12):4793-800.JD
A blend of essential plant oils was evaluated for its effects on silage fermentation and animal performance. In the first experiment, the blend of essential oils was mixed with freshly chopped whole-plant corn to achieve a concentration of 0, 40, or 80 mg of active product per kilogram of fresh forage weight. Whole-plant corn was also mixed with a buffered propionic acid-based product at 0.2% of fresh forage weight. The blend of essential oils did not affect the populations of yeasts, molds, lactic acid bacteria, or enterobacteria; the fermentation end products; or the aerobic stability of the corn silage. Addition of the buffered propionic acid additive moderately reduced the production of acids during fermentation and resulted in a small reduction in the numbers of yeasts after ensiling, but did not affect aerobic stability. In a second experiment, 30 Holstein cows (4 primiparous and 26 multiparous) averaging 118 +/- 70 d in milk and producing 38 +/- 16 kg of milk/d were fed a total mixed ration, once daily, that consisted of (on a DM basis) 25% corn silage, 15% alfalfa silage, 10% alfalfa hay, and 50% concentrate. One-half of the cows were fed a blend of essential oils that was mixed directly into their total mixed ration to provide 1.2 g/cow per d for 9 wk. Cows fed the essential oils ate 1.9 kg more dry matter/d and produced 2.7 kg more 3.5% fat-corrected milk/d than did cows fed the control diet. The percentages of milk fat and protein, the somatic cell count numbers, and the concentrations of milk urea nitrogen were unaffected by treatment. Feed efficiency, change in body weight, and change in body condition scoring were also similar between treatments. After 12 h of incubation, the addition of a moderate dose and a high dose of essential oils to in vitro ruminal fermentations had no effect on the concentration of total VFA compared with the control treatment. However, they decreased the molar proportions of acetic, butyric, and valeric acids and increased the proportion of propionic acid. The blend of essential oils evaluated in this study altered in vitro ruminal fermentation and improved animal performance when fed directly to cows, but it did not affect the fermentation or aerobic stability of corn silage.