Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effects of lowering crude protein supply alone or in a combination with essential oils on productivity, rumen function and nutrient utilization in dairy cows

  • J. Oh (a1), M. Harper (a1) and A. N. Hristov (a1)


Lowering dietary protein concentration is known to decrease urinary nitrogen (N) losses and increase milk N efficiency in dairy cows, but it may negatively affect animal productivity. Plant-derived essential oils (EO) may alleviate these negative effects by improving the efficiency of rumen fermentation in cows fed reduced feed protein diets. The experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of lowering crude protein (CP) supply alone or in a combination with an EO product on feed intake, milk production and composition, rumen fermentation, total tract digestibility and N utilization in dairy cows. Twenty-one Holstein cows were used in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design experiment. Each period consisted of 14 days for adaptation and 14 days for data collection and sampling. Cows were randomly assigned to one of three experimental diets: a 165 g/kg CP diet (control), a 155 g/kg CP diet (LCP) and LCP supplemented with 35 g/day per cow EO (LCPEO). The dry matter (DM) intake was decreased by LCP and LCPEO compared with the control; there was no effect of EO on DM intake. Milk yield and composition and feed efficiency were similar among treatments. Ruminal pH, lactate, ammonia and volatile fatty acids concentrations were not affected by treatment, except increased valerate concentration by LCPEO compared with LCP. The supplementation of EO tended to decrease protozoal counts. The LCP and LCPEO increased total tract digestibility of DM and organic matter and decreased CP digestibility compared with the control. Supplementation with EO did not affect total tract digestibility of dietary nutrients compared with the control or LCP. The LCP and LCPEO decreased urinary and fecal N excretions and increased milk N efficiency; nitrogen losses were not affected by EO. In this study, lowering dietary CP by 10 g/kg decreased urinary and fecal N excretion without affecting productivity. The supplementation of EO to LCP had only minor effects on rumen fermentation and did not affect productivity, digestibility and N excretion in lactating dairy cows.


Corresponding author



Hide All
Allen, MS 2000. Effects of diet on short-term regulation of feed intake by lactating dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science 83, 15981624.
Atasoglu, C, Newbold, CJ and Wallace, RJ 2001. Incorporation of [(15)N]ammonia by the cellulolytic ruminal bacteria Fibrobacter succinogenes BL2, Ruminococcus albus SY3 and Ruminococcus flavefaciens 17. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 67, 28192822.
Benchaar, C, Chaves, AV, Fraser, GR, Beauchemin, KA and McAllister, TA 2007b. Effects of essential oils and their components on in vitro rumen microbial fermentation. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 87, 413419.
Benchaar, C, Petit, HV, Berthiaume, R, Ouellet, DR, Chiquette, J and Chouinard, PY 2007a. Effects of essential oils on digestion, ruminal fermentation, rumen microbial populations, milk production and milk composition in dairy cows fed alfalfa silage or corn silage. Journal of Dairy Science 90, 886897.
Bergman, EN 1990. Energy contributions of volatile fatty acids from the gastrointestinal tract in various species. Physiological Reviews 70, 567590.
Broderick, GA, Faciola, AP and Armentano, LE 2015. Replacing dietary soybean meal with canola meal improves production and efficiency of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 98, 56725687.
Burt, S 2004. Essential oils: their antibacterial properties and potential applications in foods – a review. International Journal of Food Microbiology 94, 223253.
Calsamiglia, S, Busquet, M, Cardozo, PW, Castillejos, L and Ferret, A 2007. Invited review: essential oils as modifiers of rumen microbial fermentation. Journal of Dairy Science 90, 25802595.
Cardozo, PW, Calsamiglia, S, Ferret, A and Kamel, C 2006. Effects of alfalfa extract, anise, capsicum, and a mixture of cinnamaldehyde and eugenol on ruminal fermentation and protein degradation in beef heifers fed a high-concentrate diet. Journal of Animal Science 84, 28012808.
Castillejos, L, Calsamiglia, S and Ferret, A 2006. Effect of essential oil active compounds on rumen microbial fermentation and nutrient flow in in vitro systems. Journal of Dairy Science 89, 26492658.
Colmenero, JJO and Broderick, GA 2006. Effect of dietary crude protein concentration on milk production and nitrogen utilization in lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 89, 17041712.
Giallongo, F, Harper, MT, Oh, J, Lopes, JC, Lapierre, H, Patton, RA, Parys, C, Shinzato, I and Hristov, AN 2016. Effects of rumen-protected methionine, lysine and histidine on lactation performance of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 99, 44374452.
Giallongo, F, Hristov, AN, Oh, J, Frederick, T, Weeks, H, Werner, J, Lapierre, H, Patton, RA, Gehman, A and Parys, C 2015. Effects of slow-release urea and rumen-protected methionine and histidine on performance of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 98, 32923308.
Hristov, AN and Giallongo, F 2014. Feeding protein to dairy cows – what should be our target? In Proceedings of Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, 14–16 April 2014, Fort Wayne, IN, USA, pp. 7584.
Hristov, AN, Hanigan, M, Cole, A, Todd, R, McAllister, TA, Ndegwa, PM and Rotz, A 2011. Ammonia emissions from dairy farms and beef feedlots: a review. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 91, 135.
Hristov, AN, Heyler, K, Schurman, E, Griswold, K, Topper, P, Hile, M, Ishler, V, Wheeler, E and Dinh, S 2015. Reducing dietary protein decreased the ammonia emitting potential of manure from commercial dairy farms. The Professional Animal Scientist 31, 6879.
Huhtanen, P and Hristov, AN 2009. A meta-analysis of the effects of dietary protein concentration and degradability on milk protein yield and milk N efficiency in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 92, 32223232.
Huhtanen, P, Rinne, M and Nousiainen, J 2009. A meta-analysis of feed digestion in dairy cows. 2. The effects of feeding level and diet composition on digestibility. Journal of Dairy Science 92, 50315042.
Karkalas, J 1985. An improved enzymic method for the determination of native and modified starch. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 36, 10191027.
Khateri, N, Azizi, O and Jahani-Azizabadi, H 2017. Effects of a specific blend of essential oils on apparent nutrient digestion, rumen fermentation and rumen microbial populations in sheep fed a 50:50 alfalfa hay:concentrate diet. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 30, 370378.
Kung, L, Williams, P, Schmidt, RJ and Hu, W 2008. A blend of essential plant oils used as an additive to alter silage fermentation or used as a feed additive for lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 91, 47934800.
Lee, C, Giallongo, F, Hristov, AN, Lapierre, H, Cassidy, TW, Heyler, KS, Varga, GA and Parys, C 2015. Effect of dietary protein level and rumen-protected amino acid supplementation on amino acid utilization for milk protein in lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 98, 18851902.
Lee, C, Hristov, AN, Cassidy, TW, Heyler, KS, Lapierre, H, Varga, GA, de Veth, MJ, Patton, RA and Parys, C 2012. Rumen-protected lysine, methionine, and histidine increase milk protein yield in dairy cows fed a metabolizable protein-deficient diet. Journal of Dairy Science 95, 60426056.
McIntosh, FM, Williams, P, Losa, R, Wallace, RJ, Beever, DA and Newbold, CJ 2003. Effects of essential oils on ruminal microorganisms and their protein metabolism. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 69, 50115014.
Noirot, and Etienne, P 2011. Effect of an essential oil compound based product on ruminal disappearance of proteins, fiber and starch and fermentation parameters in dairy cow. Journal of Dairy Science 94 (E-Suppl. 1), 631.
NRC 2001. Nutrient requirements of dairy cattle. 7th edition. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, USA.
Oh, J, Giallongo, F, Frederick, T, Pate, J, Walusimbi, S, Elias, RJ, Wall, EH, Bravo, D and Hristov, AN 2015. Effects of dietary capsicum oleoresin on productivity and immune responses in lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 98, 63276339.
Oh, J and Hristov, AN 2016. Effects of plant-derived bio-active compounds on rumen fermentation, nutrient utilization, immune response and productivity of ruminant animals. In Medicinal and aromatic crops: production, phytochemistry and utilization (ed. Jeliazkov, VD and Cantrell, CL), pp. 167186. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, USA.
Oh, J, Hristov, AN, Lee, C, Cassidy, T, Heyler, K, Varga, GA, Pate, J, Walusimbi, S, Brzezicka, E, Toyokawa, K, Werner, J, Donkin, SS, Elias, R, Dowd, S and Bravo, D 2013. Immune and production responses of dairy cows to postruminal supplementation with phytonutrients. Journal of Dairy Science 96, 78307843.
Oh, J, Wall, EH, Bravo, DM and Hristov, AN 2017. Host-mediated effects of phytonutrients in ruminants: a review. Journal of Dairy Science 100, 59745983.
Ørskov, ER and McDonald, I 1979. The estimation of protein degradability in the rumen from incubation measurements weighted according to rate of passage. The Journal of Agricultural Science 92, 499503.
Pérez, S, Ramos-Lopez, MA, Sánchez-Miranda, E, Fresán-Orozco, MC and Pérez-Ramos, J 2012. Antiprotozoa activity of some essential oils. Journal of Medical Plants Research 6, 29012908.
Tager, LR and Krause, KM 2011. Effects of essential oils on rumen fermentation, milk production and feeding behavior in lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 94, 24552464.
Tekippe, JA, Tacoma, R, Hristov, AN, Lee, C, Oh, J, Heyler, KS, Cassidy, TW, Varga, GA and Bravo, D 2013. Effect of essential oils on ruminal fermentation and lactation performance of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 96, 78927903.
Vendramini, THA, Takiya, CS, Silva, TH, Zanferari, F, Rentas, MF, Bertoni, JC, Consentini, CEC, Gardinal, R, Acedo, TS and Rennó, FP 2016. Effects of a blend of essential oils, chitosan or monensin on nutrient intake and digestibility of lactating dairy cows. Animal Feed Science and Technology 214, 1221.
Wall, EH, Doane, PH, Donkin, SS and Bravo, D 2014. The effects of supplementation with a blend of cinnamaldehyde and eugenol on feed intake and milk production of dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 97, 57095717.
Yang, WZ, Ametaj, BN, Benchaar, C, He, ML and Beauchemin, KA 2010. Cinnamaldehyde in feedlot cattle diets: intake, growth performance, carcass characteristics, and blood metabolites. Journal of Animal Science 88, 10821092.10.2527/jas.2008-1608


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Effects of lowering crude protein supply alone or in a combination with essential oils on productivity, rumen function and nutrient utilization in dairy cows

  • J. Oh (a1), M. Harper (a1) and A. N. Hristov (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.