This study investigated the effects of tea saponins (TSP) on milk performance, milk fatty acids, and blood immune function in dairy cows. A total of 20 early-lactation Holstein cows (days in milk = 66.4 ± 16.8 d; parity = 1.75 ± 0.91; and milk yield = 36.3 ± 7.32 kg/d; mean ± standard deviation) were randomly divided into 4 homogeneous treatment groups, with TSP added at 0, 20, 30, and 40 g/d per head, respectively. All cows had 2 wk of adaptation and 6 wk of treatments. Feed, milk, and blood were sampled and analyzed weekly. At the end of the experimental period (wk 6), the dry matter intake and yields of energy-corrected milk, milk, and milk protein, fat, and lactose in the cows fed TSP showed a quadratic response, with the lowest values in cows fed TSP at 40 g/d. The milk fat content of cows fed TSP increased linearly. Significant interactions for treatment by week were found in milk C16:1 cis-9 and C18:1 cis-9, with the highest values at wk 2, 3, and 4 in the cows fed TSP at 40 g/d. The levels declined quickly after 4 wk of feeding to values similar to those for other TSP treatments and the control at wk 5 and 6. Plasma malondialdehyde concentration decreased as the supplement level of TSP increased. The concentration of superoxide dismutase increased as the supplement level of TSP increased. The plasma concentration of tumor necrosis factor-α increased as the supplement level of TSP increased. In summary, this study showed that an intermediate dose of TSP (20 and 30 g/d) had no significant effect on feed intake, but the supplementation of 40 g/d TSP decreased feed intake, resulting in a lower milk yield. The energy-corrected milk of cows fed 40 g/d TSP declined at first but increased after 3 wk of feeding, indicating the potential adaptation to high doses of TSP supplements in dairy cows. The supplementation of TSP could reduce oxidative stress in cows and improve the immunity of dairy cows during 6 wk of feeding.
Keywords: fatty acids; immune function; milk quality; tea saponins.
Copyright © 2017 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.