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Effect of Some Medicinal Plants Seeds in the Rations on the Productive Performance of Lactating Buffaloes

S.A.H. Abo El-Nor, H.M. Khattab , H.A. Al-Alamy , F.A. Salem and M.M. Abdou

Fifteen lactating buffaloes aged 4-6 years, 4 weeks before calving were divided into five feeding treatments, 3 animals each. Medicinal plant seeds were added to basic diet at levels of 200 g fenugreek seeds (T1), 50 g caraway (T2), 50 g black seeds (T3) and 100 g lepidium sativum (T4) were fed for 12 weeks of lactation. Dry matter intake was slightly (p>0.05) increased in T1 than the other groups. Feeding herbs significantly (p<0.05) increased nutrient digestibility (DM, OM, CF and NFE) and significantly (p<0.01) increased digestibility co-efficient of CP and EE compared with control. Milk yield and 4% FCM were significantly (p<0.05) increased in treated animals than those of control being 6.08 (control), 7.56 (T1), 6.43 (T2), 6.95 (T3) and 7.35 (T4) for milk yield and 7.96 (control), 9.84 (T1), 8.5 (T2), 9.1 (T3) and 8.97 (T4) for FCM yield, respectively. Daily fat, SNF, lactose and protein yield were significantly (p<0.05) increased with treated groups than control group. Milk composition was not affected by medicinal plants additives except that lactose content significantly (p<0.05) increased with treated animals than those of control being 4.5, 5.05, 4.84, 4.94 and 4.97 respectively. However, fat content was slightly (p>0.05) decreased with treated groups being 6.27, 6.11, 6.09, 6.19 and 5.54 for control, T1, T2, T3 and T4, respectively. The calculated efficiencies of milk yield/DMI and 4% FCM/DMI were improved (p<0.05) in treatment (T2) compared with other groups. Fenugreek seeds (FG) treatments showed non significant lower values of cholesterol and total lipids, however, FG significantly (p<0.05) increased blood glucose, TP, Albumin and creatinine compared with other groups. Values of blood plasma for globulin, urea, Alk-p-ase and GOT were not significantly affected by added of medicinal plants.

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S.A.H. Abo El-Nor, H.M. Khattab , H.A. Al-Alamy , F.A. Salem and M.M. Abdou , 2007. Effect of Some Medicinal Plants Seeds in the Rations on the Productive Performance of Lactating Buffaloes. International Journal of Dairy Science, 2: 348-355.

DOI: 10.3923/ijds.2007.348.355



Buffaloes are considered the principle milk yielding animal in Egypt. They produced about 60 and 40% of the total milk yield and meat production in Egypt, respectively (Agriculture Economy Research Institute, 2003). Average milk yield ranged between 1404 and 1836 kg/head /lactation season (305 day) as well as, average fat content was about 7% and productive life of lactating buffaloes was estimated to be at 5 lactation season (Nigm, 1996).

Feed additives are important materials that can improve feed efficiency and performance of lactating buffaloes. Moreover, there are evidence indicating that these products could be considered as pollution for human and threaten there health on the long-run (Salem and El-Mahdy, 2001). On the other hand, attempts to use the natural materials as alternative growth promoters such as medicinal plants are widely accepted. Such medicinal plants include Nigella sativa, Trigonella foenum and Lepidium sativium have some properties as antiseptic, antibacterial activities against microorganism treatment, of gastro-intestinal complaints and tonic (Mericli, 1990). Moreover, Hanafy and Hatem (1991) reported that Nigella sativa seeds extracts inhibited gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. In addition, Kholif and Abd El-Gawad (2001) and Abo El-Nor et al. (2004) reported that Nigella sativa, Lepidium sativium and Carum carvi seeds might be useful as a galactogogue for lactating buffaloes.

Also, some studies indicated that such plants seeds had favourable effects on nutrient digestibility, live weight and feed efficiency with cows (Youssef et al., 1998; Aboul-Fotouh et al., 1999; Saadany et al., 2001; Mohamed and El-Saidy, 2004).

In addition, some studies indicated that the medicinal plants improved rumen activity and nutrient digestibility (El-Saadany et al., 1996; Allam et al., 1999; Aboul-Fotouh et al., 1999).

The objective of this study was to evaluate effects of some medicinal plants as feed additives in the rations of lactating buffaloes on the yield and composition of their milk.


This study was conducted at the experimental farm station of milk replacer research centre, Faculty of Agriculture, Ain shams University and National Research Centre, Dairy Science Department, Dokki. Cairo, Egypt.

Animals Management and Feeding Regime
Fifteen lactating buffaloes (at the third and fourth seasons of lactation), 4 weeks before calving were divided into five equal groups. The animals were randomly assigned among five experimental treatments of three animals each. The overall means of animals' weight were 575, 585, 591, 600 and 603 kg for control, T1, T2, T3 and T4. The experimental period started from 4 weeks before calving and extended for 12 weeks after parturition.

The extended ratio of concentrates to roughage were 70:30 on DM basis. Control group fed CFM and RS without supplements, whereas animals in the treated groups received T1 (control + 200 g fenugreek seeds h-1 day-1), T2 (control + 50 g caraway seeds h-1 day-1), T3 (control +50 g Nigelle sativa seeds h-1 day-1), T4 (control + 100 g lepidium sativum seeds h-1 day-1). The CFM consisting of 25% undecorticated cotton seed meal, 35% wheat bran, 30% yellow corn, 4% rice bran, 3% molasses, 2% limestone and 1% sodium chloride. The chemical composition of ingredients are shown in Table 1. The offered feeds were assessed to cover the requirements for each animal from Starch Equivalent (SE) and Digestible Protein (DP) according to Shehata (1971). Animals were fed individually. Concentrates were offered once daily at 8:00 am supplemented with medicinal plant seeds. Roughage was offered twice daily in equal parts at 9:00 am and 16:00 pm water was always available to the animals all the day.

Table 1: Chemical Composition of Concentrate Feed Mixture (CFM), Rice Straw (RS) and the experimental medicinal plants (on DM basis)
FG = Fenugreek, CC = Carum carvi, NS = Nigella sativa, LS = Lepidium sativium

Analysis of Feed Samples
Samples of ingredients and rations were analyzed for DM, ash, Crude Fiber (CF) and Ether Extract (EE) according to the methods of AOAC (1995). Nitrogen Free Extract (NFE) was calculated by difference.

Sampling and Analysis of Milk
Animals were machine milked twice daily at 7:00 am and 3:00 pm. Milk were recorded daily for each animal during 12 weeks of experimental period. Sampling of milk were collected once every two weeks immediately after each milking milk samples were taken for acidity determination. Milk samples were also analyzed for fat, Total Solids (TS), Total Protein (TP) and ash (Ling, 1963). Lactose (Barnett and Abd El-Tawab, 1957). Solids Not Fat (SNF) was calculated by difference.

Sampling and Analysis of Blood Plasma
Blood samples were taken from all animals at the same day of milk sampling at 4 h after morning feeding. Blood was directly collected every 2 weeks from the jugular vein in glass tubes containing EDTA and centrifuged at 4000 rpm for 20 min. Blood plasma was then separated into a clean dried glass vial and stored frozen at -18°C until chemical analysis. Plasma total protein was determined as described by Armstrong and Carr (1964) while, albumin (Doumas et al., 1971), Urea (Patton and Crouch, 1977), glucose (Siest et al., 1981) and Plasma Glutamic-Oxaloacetate-Transaminase (GOT) and Glutamic-Pyrovate-Transaminase (GPT) (Reitman and Frankel, 1957), Globulin and albumin/globulin ratio were calculated, Creatinine (Husdan, 1968), total lipids (Postma and Stores, 1968), cholesterol (Kostner et al., 1979), Alkaline phosphatase (Bessey et al., 1946).

Statistical Analysis
The statistical analysis system (SAS, 1998) was used for least square of variance for repeated measures of milk yield, milk composition, milk acidity, parameters and data of blood plasma analysis. The following model was applied:

Yijk= μ + Ti+eik+Wj+(TW)ij+eijk

Yijk = An observation on the Kth animal in the Jth week given the ith treatment.
μ =

An effect common to all animals. In this model the constant μ is assumed to represent the population mean

Ti = An effect common to all animals given ith treatment
eik = Error 1 which is Kth animal within ith treatment
Wj = An effect common to all animals in the Jth week
(TW)ij = An effect particular to ith treatment and Jth week of lactation period
eijk = Is a randomized error of all the unidentified factors that may affect the dependent variables and are not included in the model.

On the other hand, the data for digestibility trials was subjected to statistical analysis by a simple one-way classification analysis. The following model was applied:

Yij = μ +TI +eij

μ = Grand mean of treatment population, which is a constant for all observations.
Ti = Effect of treatment population (I = 1th to 5 th )
eijk = Experimental error

Duncan's multiple range-test (1955), was used for testing the significant differences between means (if any).


The Effect of Treatments on Feed Intake and Nutrients Digestability
Dry Matter Intake (DMI) for animals fed T1 and T4 were slightly (p<0.05) higher than those recorded for control, T2 and T3 as shown in Table 2. The same observation was noticed in DMI/kg0.75. However, Abo El-Nor (1999) concluded that dry matter intake was insignificantly decreased in treated groups being 14.23, 13.93 and 13.96 kg h-1 day-1 when he fed lactating buffaloes on zero, 100 and 200 g fenugreek seeds h-1 day-1. These results may be attributed to the effect of fenugreek and lepidium sativum seeds on hypothalamus to stimulate hungriness center in the brain and increase the desire for eating (Petit et al., 1993).

The present value (Table 2) showed that co-efficients of digestibility of NFE and DM were significantly increased in T1 than control, Whereas there no significant differences between the other treatments and control. Morever, OM and CF co-efficient significantly increased for T1, T3 and T4 while there were no significant differences between T2 and control. All treatments significantly increased (p<0.01) CP and EE digestibility compared with control. The improvement in digestibility co-efficiets of T1 could be illustrated on the basis that these seeds contain saponins which stimulate anaerobic fermentation of organic matter that improve efficiency of utilization of nutrients. In addition it increased bacterial number in the rumen of lactating cows (Valdez et al., 1986; Ali et al., 2005).

The Effect of Treatments on Milk Yield and Composition
Milk Yield
During the first 12 weeks of lactation period the milk yield had a higher significant (p<0.01) effect. The overall milk yield means of weeks (Fig. 1) significantly increased gradually with time progress to reach its maximum at the 6th week then decreased (p<0.01) gradually until the 12th week (the end of the experiment). The overall daily milk means for control, T1, T2, T3 and T4 were 6.08, 7.56, 6.43, 6.95 and 7.35 kg h-1 day-1, respectively.

Fig. 1: Effect of treatment on average milk yield of buffaloes (fg = Fenugreek, cc = Carawey, ns = Balck seed, Is = Cress

The relative improvement in milk production by medicinal plant seeds supplementation might be due to higher value of nutrients digestibility (Table 2). Moreover, the higher milk production for fenugreek group (T1) could be illustrated on the basis that fenugreek seeds may contain some active components stimulating the hypothalamus or directly to pituitary gland leading to release of prolactin (Basha et al., 1987). While, the improvement in milk production in T3 could be illustrated on the basis that Nigella sativa increased secretary epithelial cell number and mammary weight in treated animals (El-Komey, 1996). Also, the galactopoietics effect of Nigella sativa may be due to its Estrogenic activity which was noticed by Agrawal et al. (1990). Also the improvement in milk production for Lepidium sativium group (T4) could be attributed to increase efficiency of nutrients utilization (Tiwari et al., 1993). Table 3 show the effect of supplementing rations with different medicinal plant seeds on 4% Fat-Corrected Milk (FCM) yield of lactating buffaloes during the first 12 weeks of lactation period. It could be noticed that, the overall 4% FCM yield means significantly increased.

Table 2: Effect of treatments on mean* values of LBW, DMI and nutrients digestibility
*Each value is a mean of 3 animals; means with different subscripts in the same raw are differ significantly (p<0.05, a,b and c) or (p<0.01 A and B)

Table 3: Effect of treatments on milk yield and composition
Means with different subscripts in the same raw are differ significantly (p<0.05, a, b and c)

Table 4: Effect of treatments on overall means of some blood parameters
Means with different subscripts in the same raw are differ significantly (p<0.05, a, b and c) or (p<0.01 A and B)

The present results are in accordance with those of Allam et al. (1999) and Abo El-nor (1999) who reported that 4% FCM yield was higher (p<0.01) when lactating buffaloes were fed on zero, 100 and 200 g fenugreek seeds/head/day.

Milk Composition
Milk Solids Not Fat (SNF) content was higher (p<0.05) in T4, T2 and T1 than T3 and control (Table 3). Also milk lactose content was higher (p<0.05) in T1, T4, T3 and T2 than control. While, milk fat, total solids, total protein and ash content did not differ significantly between treatments. As on impact of the increased milk yield, daily TS, SNF, TP and lactose yields were significantly higher in T1 and T4 than T3 and T2 than control. However milk fat yield was higher (p<0.05) in T1 than T3, T4 and T2 compared with control.

The efficiencies in milk production calculated as DMI/kg milk yield, milk yield/DMi and 4% FCM yield/DMI were improved (p<0.05) in treatment T2 (Fenugreek seeds) as compared with the other group.

Blood Plasma Metabolites
Data in Table 4 showed no significant differences (p<0.05) among different treatments on some blood parameters (globulin,albumin/globulin ratio, urea, GOT, alkaline phosphates, total lipids and cholesterol). Other parameters (total protein, albumin, creatinine, GPT and glucose) were increased significantly (p<0.05) in different groups. The increase in total protein may be due to nourishing effect and improved digestion effect for Lepidium sativium seeds (Boulous, 1983). While the increase in albumin are in good agreement with those reperted by (Allam et al., 1999; Ali et al., 2005; El-Ashry et al., 2006). However the result of creatinine are in good agreement with Nazar (1994) who found that creatinine was higher (p>0.05) by using fenugreek seeds and lower (p>0.05) by using Lepidium sativium seeds. Also, the increase of GPT may be illustrated on the basis that milk production of treated animals enhanced liver metabolism which lead to increase of GPT activity (Larson, 1985). Whatever, increase of glucose can be illustrated on the basis that used medicinal plant seeds as mentioned previously increased apparent digestibility of nutrients. this result are agreement with those reported by Nazar (1994) and El-Ashry et al. (2006) who found that the mean values of blood glucose were higher in treated animals with medicinal herbs than control.


From the results obtained, it could be concluded that supplementing lactating buffalo's diets with medicinal plants is recommended as a new step in the field of animal production for improving productive performance of lactating buffalo, regarding milk yield and composition and feed efficiency. Additionally, these results revealed to negative effects on general health of the treated animals. Therefore, medicinal plant seeds can be successfully used in lactating buffaloes rations as feed additives.

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