Fennel, Research Updates|


The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effects on performance, weaning age and rumen fermentation characteristics in Holstein calves when fennel powder was added to their starter diets. Thirty Holstein calves with a mean birth weight 40 kg (SD = 0.5) were allocated randomly to one of the following experimental diets: (i) control (starter diet without fennel powder), (ii) starter diet containing 0.4% of fennel powder and (iii) starter diet containing 0.8% of fennel powder (DM basis). The effect of treatments on mean dry matter intake was significant (p < 0.05) in the post-weaning and total experimental periods. Average daily weight gain before (0.38, 0.49 and 0.47 kg/day) and after (0.6, 1.01 and 0.83 kg/day) weaning and during the entire study (0.45, 0.7 and 0.58 kg/day) was influenced by diets of 1, 2 and 3, respectively (p < 0.05). Maximum daily weight gain and the best feed conversion ratio were achieved with 0.4% fennel powder. Mean weaning age of the calves supplemented with fennel powder was lower (p < 0.05) than that of the control group. Ruminal fluid pH in calves offered starter containing 0.8% fennel powder was lower (p < 0.05) compared to calves fed the other diets. Ammonia nitrogen content increased (p < 0.05) in the third week of feeding fennel powder. The mean concentration of total short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and propionate molar percentage in the ruminal fluid of the calves fed with the fennel powder were higher (p < 0.05) at 6 weeks and 2 weeks after weaning than control group; however, acetate-to-propionate molar ratio was lower (p < 0.05). The results showed that adding 0.4% fennel powder to the starter increased the propionate molar percentage in the rumen and improved the calf performance, allowing the calves to be weaned at an earlier age.

Reference: Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, Volume 101, Issue 1, February 2017, Pages 81–87, S. Saeedi, O. Dayani, R. Tahmasbi, A. Khezri

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