How Black and Rocket Seed Supplements Affect Lamb Growth and Health

Greg Howard
12th May, 2024

How Black and Rocket Seed Supplements Affect Lamb Growth and Health

Image Source: Ludvig Hedenborg (photographer)

Key Findings

  • In a Cairo University study, adding black cumin or arugula seeds to lamb diets improved growth and health
  • Lambs fed these seeds digested food better and gained weight more efficiently
  • The seeds also boosted lambs' immune systems and reduced harmful blood fats and oxidative stress
In the quest to enhance the health and growth of livestock, scientists are continuously exploring natural feed additives that can boost animal performance and well-being. A recent study conducted by researchers at Cairo University[1] has shed light on the benefits of incorporating seeds from two particular plants—Nigella sativa (NS) and Eruca sativa (ES)—into the diets of Barki lambs. Nigella sativa, commonly known as black cumin, and Eruca sativa, known as arugula or rocket, are not just culinary herbs but have a storied history in traditional medicine. Previous research has highlighted the protective effects of Nigella sativa against various forms of toxicity and its ability to improve blood parameters[2]. Similarly, Eruca sativa has been recognized for its ability to counteract male reproductive issues caused by toxic substances like acrylamide[3]. The current study aimed to identify the polyphenol compounds present in NS and ES seeds and assess their impact on lamb growth, digestibility of their feed, rumen (the first stomach compartment in ruminants like lambs, where microbial fermentation occurs) health, blood parameters, and antioxidative status. Polyphenols are a category of compounds naturally found in plants that have antioxidant properties, which means they can neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals that damage cells. The experiment involved 48 male lambs, divided into four groups. The control group was fed a standard diet without additives, while the other groups received the same diet with the addition of 2% NS, 2% ES, or a combination of 1% NS and 1% ES. The researchers found that both NS and ES seeds are rich in rutin and catechin, two types of polyphenols known for their health benefits. Lambs fed diets supplemented with NS or ES alone showed significant improvements in digestibility of dry matter and overall nutritive value. They also experienced better average daily weight gain and feed conversion ratios, indicating more efficient use of their feed. However, when NS and ES were combined, these benefits did not significantly surpass those observed in the control group. Ruminal ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N) and total volatile fatty acids (TVFA) concentrations, which are indicators of rumen microbial activity and fermentation, were reduced in the group receiving both NS and ES. This suggests a potential for these seeds to modulate fermentation in a way that could be beneficial for the animal's digestive efficiency. Furthermore, blood analysis revealed that lambs supplemented with NS and ES had increased white blood cell counts, packed cell volume (PCV), and total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC). These changes point to an enhanced immune system and better overall health. The supplemented lambs also had reduced levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker of oxidative stress. These findings suggest that adding NS and ES seeds to lamb diets can have a positive impact on animal growth performance and health, echoing the protective and beneficial effects observed in earlier studies on rats and humans[2][3]. The presence of polyphenol compounds like rutin and catechin in these seeds likely contributes to their antioxidative properties, which play a role in the observed health benefits. In conclusion, the study from Cairo University provides evidence supporting the use of Nigella sativa and Eruca sativa seeds as natural feed additives to improve the health and performance of lambs. This research not only adds to the body of knowledge on the benefits of these seeds but also offers practical implications for the livestock industry, aiming for more natural and sustainable farming practices.

NutritionHealthAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Nutrient utilization, growth performance, and antioxidative status of Barki lambs fed diets supplemented with black (Nigella sativa) and rocket (Eruca sativa) seeds.

Published 10th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Pharmacological and toxicological properties of Nigella sativa.

Journal: Phytotherapy research : PTR, Issue: Vol 17, Issue 4, Apr 2003

3) Eruca sativa seed extract modulates oxidative stress and apoptosis and up-regulates the expression of Bcl-2 and Bax genes in acrylamide-induced testicular dysfunction in rats.

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