A new trial carried out at a Brazilian university during the hot season found that the 100 per cent natural oregano essential oil (OEO) feed additive Orego-Stim, from Anpario, increased milk yield and energy corrected milk yield in Jersey cows post-calving.
Supplementation of cow diets with the natural phytogenic was also found to lower the number of aggressive interactions per day pre-calving.
A total of 24 Jersey cows, weighing approximately 400kg and averaging 2.7 lactations, were split into one of three treatment groups from 21 days pre-calving to 21 days post-calving: a control group; an OEO supplemented group (10g per day of Orego-Stim Powder; and a Green Tea supplemented group (5g per day Green Tea extract). Body weight and body condition were measured weekly, with production and feeding behaviour assessed daily. Animal health and welfare was continuously monitored.
The results showed that pre-calving, cows fed OEO supplemented diets visited the feed trough less often, but also had fewer visits without eating and tended to spend more time ruminating than the other dietary groups. Cows receiving OEO supplemented diets also had significantly fewer aggressive episodes per day than the control group, with OEO fed cows demonstrating a 48 per cent lower incidence compared to the control.
Post-calving, cows receiving OEO tended to have a higher dry matter intake, a 16 per cent greater milk yield and a higher energy corrected milk yield than the control cows. Compared to Green Tea supplemented cows, OEO increased milk yield significantly by 35 per cent.
Anpario’s global innovation manager and ruminant technical specialist, David Wilde, commented said transition cows were particularly susceptible to increased disease challenge following disruption to feeding and social behaviours, increasing the risk of involuntary culling.
“When considering the improvements seen in this trial on performance, feeding behaviour and social interactions, OEO may help to support enhanced welfare of dairy cows during the transition period,” he added.
Professor Vivian Fischer from Federal University, Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil, who was researcher on the trial said the trial was run to verify the effects of natural phytogenic supplementation, while also taking into account the concerns from the public about animal health and welfare, as well as the quality and safety of animal products such as milk.
Natural, non-synthetic, OEO has been shown to contain more than 100 beneficial compounds that work synergistically to offer a multitude of benefits. Compounds such as ρ-cymene, carvacrol and thymol are acknowledged to have a role in appetite enhancement, offer antibacterial and antioxidant functions, which can support livestock during periods of heat stress, as well as providing effective immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.