Oregano essential oil could boost milk production, study suggests

Oregano essential oil (OEO) has been found to help lower milk somatic cell count (SCC) and reduce levels of oxidative stress biomarkers – leading to greater milk production. These findings were from trials carried out at the Federal University in Brazil.

Cows fed an OEO-supplemented diet during the Brazilian trial were found to have significantly lower somatic cell counts (SCC), by 62 and 50 per cent, compared to those in a control group, or those supplemented with green tea extract.

The trial involved 24 Jersey cows, weighing approximately 400kg and 2.7 lactations, split into three treatment groups from 21 days pre-calving to 21 days post-calving. One received 10g per day of Orego-Stim; another was given 5g per day green tea extract, while the final group was a control group.

Blood samples were taken to determine the antioxidant status of the cows; and researchers assessed the different dietary treatments’ ability to reduce dichlorofluorescein diacetate (DCF) oxidation, an indicator of levels of harmful free radicals. Milk was also analysed for markers of quality, such as SCC, as well as measuring total milk yield.

“Measuring the SCC of milk can be a good indicator of cow health, with high levels suggesting infection, as well as causing an altered mineral flow in the udder which can result in a higher milk pH and reduced production”, said David Wilde, global innovation manager and ruminant technical specialist at Anpario plc.

“Antioxidants can help to reduce incidence of oxidative stress, helping to support performance and immune function,” he added. “For transition cows, antioxidant function is particularly important as these animals are highly susceptible to impaired immunity and increased disease prevalence, elevating the risk of poor performance or involuntary culling.”

The trial found that both OEO and green tea supplemented cows had significantly lower DCF oxidation both pre- and post-calving, demonstrating an increased antioxidant activity and a reduced level of oxidative stress compared to control cows. Post-calving, cows fed OEO also had significantly higher levels of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH), indicating reduced metabolic stress.

Dr Vivian Fischer from Federal University and researcher on the trial concluded: “The dairy production chain may benefit from supplementing diets with oregano extract, as it could help support redox status, improve feeding and social behaviour and may reduce incidence of illnesses.”

Natural oregano essential oil contains many different active compounds that act synergistically to offer a multitude of benefits. The whole oil offers palatability and appetite enhancement whilst compounds such as carvacrol, thymol and ρ-cymene are acknowledged to have a role in antibacterial and antioxidant functions, which can support livestock during periods of heat stress, as well providing effective immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.


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