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 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) or a green tea supplemented group (5g per day green tea extract). Body weight and body condition were measured weekly, with production and feeding behavior assessed daily. Animal health and welfare was continuously monitored.
The results showed 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% lower incidence compared to the control.
Post-calving, cows receiving OEO tended to have a higher dry matter intake, a 16% greater milk yield and a higher energy corrected milk yield than the control cows. Compared to green-tea-supplemented cows, OEO increased milk yield by 35%.
David Wilde, Anpario’s global innovation manager and ruminant technical specialist, said, “Transition cows are particularly susceptible to increased disease challenge following disruption to feeding and social behaviors, increasing the risk of involuntary culling. When considering the improvements seen in this trial on performance, feeding behavior and social interactions, OEO may help to support enhanced welfare of dairy cows during the transition period.”
Vivian Fischer, a professor from Federal University, Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil and researcher on the trial, said, “The trial was run to verify the effects of natural phytogenic supplementation, whilst 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.”
The company said natural, non-synthetic, oregano essential oil contains more than 100 beneficial compounds. Compounds such as ρ-cymene, carvacrol and thymol have a role in appetite enhancement and offer antibacterial and antioxidant functions, which can support livestock during periods of heat stress, as well providing immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.