Ginger Extract's Impact on Growth and Health in Young Cows

Greg Howard
12th April, 2024

Ginger Extract's Impact on Growth and Health in Young Cows

Key Findings

  • In a study at Isparta University, calves given ginger extract showed better growth and were weaned earlier
  • Calves on a moderate ginger extract diet ate less feed, hinting at improved feed efficiency
  • The highest ginger extract dose reduced E. coli growth, suggesting a boost in health and immunity
In the field of animal husbandry, finding natural ways to boost the health and growth of livestock is a continuous goal. A recent study[1] conducted by Isparta University of Applied Sciences has explored the use of ginger liquid extract (GLE) as a dietary supplement for Holstein calves, a breed renowned for its dairy production. The research aimed to determine if GLE could improve growth, immune response, antioxidative defense mechanisms, and overall health in these young animals. The study involved sixteen 4-day-old calves, which were divided into groups and given whole milk with varying concentrations of GLE: 0% (control), 0.50%, 0.72%, and 1%. The results were promising, particularly for the group receiving the highest concentration of GLE. These calves were weaned earlier and exhibited better body weight gains compared to their peers in the other groups. Interestingly, the calves on the 0.50% GLE diet consumed less starter feed daily, suggesting that even a moderate inclusion of GLE could influence feed intake. One of the key concerns in calf rearing is health issues like diarrhea, which can severely impact growth rates and the general well-being of the animals. While the study found a non-significant decrease in fecal score—a measure of diarrhea severity—and the number of days with diarrhea and illness, the highest GLE concentration showed a notable inhibitory effect on the growth of E. coli, a common pathogenic bacterium that can cause gastrointestinal distress. The antioxidative defense mechanism of an organism is crucial for neutralizing harmful oxidative stress, which can damage cells and tissues. Although reductions in malondialdehyde (MDA), total oxidative status (TOS), and oxidative stress index (OSI) were not statistically significant, the 1% GLE group showed trends towards supporting this defense mechanism. This ties in with earlier research[2] indicating that ginger extract can enhance the antioxidant capacity and immune function in laying hens. Previous studies have also examined the effects of natural extracts like garlic in calves[3] and various spices in other animals[4],[5]. For instance, garlic extract was found to improve body weight gain, feed intake, and feed conversion efficiency in calves[3]. Similarly, a blend of dietary spices increased bile secretion and the activity of digestive enzymes in rats[4], while essential oil supplementation in pig diets improved nutrient digestibility and immune properties[5]. These findings collectively suggest that natural extracts can have a positive impact on animal health and growth, supporting the potential seen in the current GLE study. The inclusion of GLE in the calves' diet aligns with the broader trend of using natural additives to promote livestock health. By enhancing immune responses and potentially reducing the impact of harmful bacteria, GLE offers a natural alternative to conventional medicines and growth promoters. This is particularly relevant given the increasing consumer demand for sustainably produced food from animals raised in healthy conditions. In conclusion, the study from Isparta University of Applied Sciences provides evidence that ginger liquid extract can be a beneficial addition to the diet of Holstein calves. At a 1% inclusion rate, GLE not only promoted better growth and early weaning but also showed potential in supporting the immune system and antioxidative defense mechanisms. These findings could have significant implications for calf-rearing practices, offering a natural means to improve the health and performance of dairy calves. As with any research, further studies on a larger scale and over a longer period would be valuable to confirm these results and fully understand the implications of GLE supplementation in livestock diets.

HerbsHealthAnimal Science


Main Study

1) The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale L.) liquid extract on growth, immune response, antioxidant defence mechanism, and general health of Holstein calves.

Published 11th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Ginger extract enhances antioxidant ability and immunity of layers.

3) The effect of dietary garlic supplementation on body weight gain, feed intake, feed conversion efficiency, faecal score, faecal coliform count and feeding cost in crossbred dairy calves.

4) Fat digestion and absorption in spice-pretreated rats.

5) Effects of essential oil supplementation of a low-energy diet on performance, intestinal morphology and microflora, immune properties and antioxidant activities in weaned pigs.

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