Four ruminally cannulated lactating cows were used in a 4×4 Latin square design (28-d periods) to determine the effects of cinnamaldehyde (CIN; 1 g/cow per day), condensed tannins from quebracho trees (QCT, containing 70% tannins, 150 g/cow per day), and saponins from Yucca schidigera extract (YSE, containing 10% saponins; 60 g/cow per day) on digestion, ruminal fermentation characteristics, protozoal populations, and milk production. Intake of dry matter was not affected by the addition of CIN or QCT, but cows fed YSE had lesser intake than cows fed the control diet (21.8 vs. 23.2 kg/d). Apparent total-tract digestibilities of dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, neutral detergent fiber, and acid detergent fiber were unaffected by dietary treatments. Supplementation with CIN, QTE, or YSE did not affect in situ ruminal degradation of soybean meal, grass silage, or corn grain. Ruminal pH (6.67), total volatile fatty acid concentration (135mM), and molar proportions (mol/100mol of total volatile fatty acid) of acetate (65.0), propionate (19.6), and butyrate (11.2) were similar among treatments. Ruminal NH3-N concentration was not changed by the addition of CIN and YSE, but tended to decrease in cows fed QCT compared with cows fed the control diet (132 vs. 160mg/L). Total numbers of ruminal protozoa were not changed by adding CIN, QCT, or YSE in the diet (5.85 log10/mL). However, the number of Isotricha was greater in ruminal fluid of cows fed CIN than in ruminal fluid of cows fed the control diet (4.46 vs. 4.23 log10/mL). Milk production (33.1 kg/d), milk fat (4.3%), and milk protein (3.5%) remained unchanged between dietary treatments. Results of this study show that under our experimental conditions, supplementing dairy cow diets with CIN, QCT, or YSE had limited effects on digestion, ruminal fermentation characteristics, and protozoal populations. The lack of effects observed in this study suggests that these antimicrobials require administration at greater doses to favorably alter rumen microbial fermentation.
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