Interpretive Summary: Lactobacillus-fermented plant extracts reduce oxidative stress and increase milk yield in ewes during peak lactation
By: Anne Kamiya, MS
Increased oxidative stress causes a variety of ill effects on ruminants including reduced performance and increased morbidity and mortality. Nutritional stress from an inability to meet high feed energy demands (e.g., during gestation or lactation) can also increase oxidative stress. Paradoxically, ewes given energy supplementation during peak lactation suffer from increased oxidative stress due to the higher starch content of their feed.
The authors of this recent Journal of Animal Science study hypothesized that Lactobacillus-fermented plant extracts would offset these negative effects by ameliorating oxidative stress. In their research, ewes were fed one of 4 diets during peak lactation (4 weeks postpartum): normal feed with no supplements, pelleted energy supplement only, pelleted energy supplement with Lactobacillus-fermented seaweed extract, or pelleted energy supplement with Lactobacillus-fermented seaweed and plant extracts.
Data collected included ewe performance, milk composition and ruminal fluid and plasma urea analysis. Results indicated that the addition of Lactobacillus-fermented seaweed and plants reduced oxidative stress and increased milk yield and quality. These data supported the authors’ hypothesis. Biochemically, increased oxidative stress from energy supplementation was due to increased oxidative phosphorylation (causing an uptick in oxidation), according to the study. Lactobacillus-fermented seaweed and plants effectively ameliorated this stress.
Overall, the results of this study are promising. The addition of plant-based Lactobacillus-fermented products are a straightforward approach to countering oxidative stress and have a beneficial effect on redox balance. More studies into the potential benefit of these products under different settings (illness, postweaning) may be warranted.
The original article, Negative effects of energy supplementation at peak lactation of sheep can be offset by the addition of Lactobacillus-fermented plant extracts, is available on the Journal of Animal Science website.