3 years ago

Performance, rumen fermentation and blood metabolites of dairy calves fed starter mixtures supplemented with herbal plants, essential oils or monensin

M. Akbarian-Tefaghi, M. Khorvash, E. Ghasemi
This study evaluated the supplementation effects of three herbal plants (thyme [THY], eucalyptus [EUC] and celery [CEL]), a commercial phytogenic additive ‎containing essential oils (PFA-EO, Digestarom® P.E.P.) and monensin (MON) in calf starter on performance, rumen fermentation and blood metabolites during pre- (days 3–55) and post-weaning (days 56–70). Sixty-six Holstein dairy calves (3 days of age, 41.2 ± 3 kg of BW) were allocated to one of six starters supplemented with: (i) no additives (CON), (ii) MON (30 mg/kg), (iii) THY (23 g/kg), (iv) CEL (23 g/kg), (v) EUC (23 g/kg) and (vi) PFA-EO (3 g/kg). All the calves were offered starters ad libitum plus 6 L of whole milk daily. Starter intake tended to be the highest in calves fed PFA-EO and THY; intermediate in calves fed CON, MON and EUC; and the lowest in those fed CEL. Average daily gain (ADG) and feed efficiency (FE) remained unaffected by dietary treatments during the pre-weaning. During the post-weaning period, ADG and FE ‎were greatest in calves fed EUC followed by those fed CON, MON, PFA-EO and THY, and then in those fed CEL. No differences were observed among the treatments in skeletal growth, faecal score, rumen pH or ammonia-N concentration. Compared to calves fed CON and MON, those fed the herbal plants or PFA-EO tended to recorded higher molar proportions of acetate and butyrate, and the acetate: propionate ratio. Blood malondialdehyde level did not differ among treatments, but calves on CON had the highest glucose concentration, and those fed PFA-EO recorded the highest value for β-hydroxyl butyrate on day 70. In conclusion, the results indicate that the three herbs and PFA-EO are capable of modulating some of the rumen fermentation parameters and blood metabolites as well as eucalyptus could potentially be a better alternative to monensin for improving post-weaning performance.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jpn.12842

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