Two experiments were conducted on sheep to determine the effect of dietary supplementation with zinc and a medicinal plant mixture on haematological parameters and microbial activity in the rumen and large intestine. In Experiment 1, 24 male lambs were randomly divided into four groups: One group was fed an unsupplemented basal diet (control), and three groups were fed a diet supplemented with 70 mg Zn/kg diet in the form of Zn sulphate (ZnSO4 ), a Zn-chelate of glycine hydrate (Zn-Gly) or a Zn-proteinate (Zn-Pro), for five months. The ruminal content was collected separately from each lamb, and batch cultures of ruminal fluid were incubated in vitro with mixture of medicinal plants (Mix) with different roughage:concentrate ratios (800:200 and 400:600, w/w). Bioactive compounds in Mix were quantified by UPLC/MS/MS. In Experiment 2, four sheep were fed a diet consisting of meadow hay and barley grain (400:600, w/w), with Zn-Gly (70 mg Zn/kg diet), Mix (10% replacement of meadow hay) or Zn-Gly and Mix (Zn-Gly-Mix) as supplements in a Latin square design. Mix decreased total gas (p < 0.001) and methane (p < 0.01) production in vitro. In Experiment 1, caecal isobutyrate and isovalerate concentrations varied among the dietary treatments (p < 0.01). The isovalerate concentration of the zinc-supplemented groups in the distal colon was higher (p < 0.001) compared with the control. In Experiment 2, the molar proportion of isobutyrate was the highest in the faeces of the sheep fed the diet with Zn-Gly-Mix (p < 0.01). The plasma zinc concentration was higher in the groups fed a diet supplemented with zinc (p < 0.001). The haematological profile and antioxidant status did not differ between the dietary groups (p > 0.05). The diets containing medicinal plants and organic zinc thus helped to modulate the characteristics of fermentation in ruminants.
Keywords: blood; caecum; flavonoids; gallic acid; ruminants; zinc.
© 2018 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.