Effect of replacement of antibiotics with thyme and celery seed mixture on the feed intake and digestion, ruminal fermentation, blood chemistry, and milk lactation of lactating Barki ewes
The study investigated the effect of in-feed administration of dried thyme leaf and celery seed mixture (at 1 : 1 DM basis) compared with salinomycin ionophore on milk production and milk nutritive value of Barki ewes. Thirty ewes (37.5 ± 1.8 kg), divided into 3 treatment groups, were fed: (1) a complete control diet comprising concentrates and fodder maize (Zea mays L.) at 60 : 40 dry matter basis, (2) the control diet plus 20 g of thyme and celery mixture supplementation and (3) the control diet supplemented with 1 g of salinomycin per ewe daily for 90 days. Inclusion of thyme–celery treatment increased (P < 0.05) weight gain, average daily gain, milk yield, milk component yields, and feed efficiency, without affecting milk composition. In addition, the thyme–celery treatment enhanced (P < 0.05) nutrient intake and digestibility, total ruminal volatile fatty acids, branched chain fatty acids, and acetate proportions and decreased ammonia-N concentration. Thyme–celery treatment increased (P < 0.05) serum glucose, thyroxine, and glutamate-pyruvate transaminase concentrations. It is concluded that the thyme and celery mixture (1 : 1 DM basis) at 20 g per lactating ewe daily can replace the salinomycin ionophore. Enhanced feed utilization and lactational performance as well as milk nutritive value for human consumption were observed with the natural additive mixture supplementation.