Effects of garlic and juniper berry essential oils on ruminal fermentation and on the site and extent of digestion in lactating cows

J Dairy Sci. 2007 Dec;90(12):5671-81. doi: 10.3168/jds.2007-0369.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of feeding essential oils from garlic (GAR) and juniper berry (JUN), or monensin (MO) on feed intake, ruminal fermentation, the site and extent of digestion, microbial protein synthesis, milk production, and immune status in dairy cows. Four midlactating Holstein cows fitted with ruminal and duodenal cannulas were used in a 4 x 4 Latin square design with 21-d periods and 4 treatments: control (no additive), MO (330 mg/cow per d), GAR (5 g/cow per d), and JUN (2 g/cow per d). Cows were fed ad libitum a TMR consisting of 40% forage and 60% barley-based concentrate. Dry matter intake averaged 20.4 kg/d and was not affected by dietary additives. Total tract digestibilities of dry matter, organic matter, fiber, and starch were not affected by experimental treatments. However, ruminal digestibilities of dry matter and organic matter were higher (+13%) for GAR and JUN than for the control diet, mainly because of increased crude protein digestion in the rumen. Feeding GAR and JUN increased ruminal digestion of dietary protein by 11% as compared with the control. In contrast, ruminal digestion of dietary protein was reduced by 11% with MO as compared with the control. Milk fat content was lower for MO (2.68%) than for the GAR (3.46%), JUN (3.40%), and control (3.14%) diets. No effects of GAR, JUN, or MO were observed on milk production, ruminal microbial protein synthesis, ruminal pH, and ruminal concentrations of volatile fatty acids and ammonia N. The total and differential numbers of white blood cells as well as serum amyloid A and haptoglobin were not affected by the treatments, suggesting that additives had no effect on the immune status of cows. Results of this study indicate that supplementing dairy cows with GAR (5 g/d) and JUN (2 g/d) essential oils improved feed digestibility in the rumen, but possibly at the expense of a reduction in the flow of bypass protein to the small intestine. Feeding monensin could be beneficial in terms of increasing bypass protein from the rumen but did not improve feed digestion or milk production under the current experimental conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Allyl Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Allyl Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Animal Feed
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Cattle / metabolism
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Digestion / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Fermentation / drug effects
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lactation / metabolism
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Monensin / administration & dosage
  • Monensin / pharmacology
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rumen / metabolism*
  • Rumen / microbiology
  • Sulfides / administration & dosage
  • Sulfides / pharmacology*


  • Allyl Compounds
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • Sulfides
  • allyl sulfide
  • Monensin
  • Nitrogen
  • juniper berry oil