Plant extracts affect in vitro rumen microbial fermentation

J Dairy Sci. 2006 Feb;89(2):761-71. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(06)72137-3.


Different doses of 12 plant extracts and 6 secondary plant metabolites were incubated for 24 h in diluted ruminal fluid with a 50:50 forage:concentrate diet. Treatments were: control (no additive), plant extracts (anise oil, cade oil, capsicum oil, cinnamon oil, clove bud oil, dill oil, fenugreek, garlic oil, ginger oil, oregano oil, tea tree oil, and yucca), and secondary plant metabolites (anethol, benzyl salicylate, carvacrol, carvone, cinnamaldehyde, and eugenol). Each treatment was supplied at 3, 30, 300, and 3,000 mg/L of culture fluid. At 3,000 mg/L, most treatments decreased total volatile fatty acid concentration, but cade oil, capsicum oil, dill oil, fenugreek, ginger oil, and yucca had no effect. Different doses of anethol, anise oil, carvone, and tea tree oil decreased the proportion of acetate and propionate, which suggests that these compounds may not be nutritionally beneficial to dairy cattle. Garlic oil (300 and 3,000 mg/L) and benzyl salicylate (300 and 3,000 mg/L) reduced acetate and increased propionate and butyrate proportions, suggesting that methane production was inhibited. At 3,000 mg/L, capsicum oil, carvacrol, carvone, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamon oil, clove bud oil, eugenol, fenugreek, and oregano oil resulted in a 30 to 50% reduction in ammonia N concentration. Careful selection and combination of these extracts may allow the manipulation of rumen microbial fermentation.

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / analysis
  • Animals
  • Body Fluids / microbiology
  • Cattle
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / analysis
  • Fermentation / drug effects*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Rumen / microbiology*


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • Ammonia
  • Nitrogen