Effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oils supplementation on digestion, colostrum production of dairy ewes and lamb mortality and growth

Anim Sci J. 2015 Jul;86(7):679-88. doi: 10.1111/asj.12352. Epub 2015 Jan 19.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of rosemary essential oils (REO) and the forage nature on ewes' performances, immune response and lambs' growth and mortality. Forty-eight dairy ewes (Sicilo-Sarde) were fed oat-hay or oat-silage supplemented with 400 g of concentrate during pregnancy and 600 g during postpartum. The experimental concentrate contained the same mixture as the control (barley, soybean meal and mineral vitamin supplement) more 0.6 g/kg of REO. Two groups were obtained with each forage (Hay groups: H-C and H-REO; Silage groups: S-C and S-REO). REO increased the dry matter (DM) intake, the nitrogen intake and retention being higher with the silage groups (P < 0.05). REO increased solid non-fat (P = 0.004) and fat contents of colostrum which was higher with hay (P = 0.002). REO decreased lamb mortality (P < 0.05) which averaged 21% for control groups and 6% for H-REO, while no mortality was recorded with S-REO. REO dietary supply improved forage intake and tended to ameliorate colostrum production; it could be a natural additive to improve ewes' performances.

Keywords: colostrum; digestibility; ewe; mortality; rosemary.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Colostrum / immunology
  • Colostrum / metabolism*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Digestion / drug effects*
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Female
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal
  • Rosmarinus / chemistry*
  • Sheep / growth & development*
  • Sheep / physiology*
  • Silage


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Oils, Volatile