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.
© 2015 Japanese Society of Animal Science.