Two experiments were carried out in this study. Experiment 1 was conducted to examine the effects of several supplemental Chinese herbs on antioxidant function and slaughtered body weight in sheep. Results indicated that Fructus Ligustri Lucidi supplementation improved the blood antioxidant function [higher concentration of glutathione reductase (GR), superoxide dismutase and lower concentration of malondialdehyde] and slaughtered body weight in sheep (p < 0.05). Experiment 2 was conducted to investigate the effect of Fructus Ligustri Lucidi extract (FLLE) on rumen fermentation and nutrient digestibility in sheep. Four levels of FLLE treatments, i.e. 0, 100, 300 and 500 mg/kg dry matter (DM), were used in this part. Addition of FLLE at 300 or 500 mg/kg DM increased total volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration and propionate proportion, decreased ammonia-N concentration in the ruminal fluid, reduced blood urea nitrogen concentration at 2, 4, 6 and 8 h after morning feeding (p < 0.05). Addition of FLLE at all dosages had no effect on ruminal pH value and acetate concentration at all sampling time points in sheep (p > 0.05). Dynamic degradation coefficient c of maize DM was significantly increased by supplementing FLLE at 300 or 500 mg/kg DM (p < 0.05). Fructus Ligustri Lucidi extract addition had no effect on degradation coefficients a, b, c of DM and nitrogen of soybean meal; a, b of maize DM; a, b, c of maize nitrogen; and a, b, c of neutral detergent fibre (NDF) and acid detergent fibre (ADF) of Chinese wildrye (p > 0.05). Addition of FLLE at 300 or 500 mg/kg DM increased DM and organic matter digestibility of diet (p < 0.05). Fructus Ligustri Lucidi extract addition had no effect on digestibility of diet's NDF, ADF and crude protein (p > 0.05). From the aforementioned results, it is indicated that FLLE improved antioxidant status and slaughtered body weight. Fructus Ligustri Lucidi extract addition has capability to modulate rumen fermentation, increase the maize degradation rate, total volatile fatty acid concentration and propionate proportion in sheep.
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