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Blend of Essential Oils Supplemented Alone or Combined with Exogenous Amylase Compared with Virginiamycin Supplementation on Finishing Lambs: Performance, Dietary Energetics, Carcass Traits, and Nutrient Digestion


Two experiments were conducted to compare a supplemental blend of essential oils alone (EO) or combined with enzymes (EO + ENZ) versus virginiamycin (VM), on characteristics of growth performance (Exp. 1) and digestion (Exp. 2) in finishing lambs. Lambs were fed a high-energy finishing diet supplemented with: (1) no supplement (control); (2) 150 mg supplemental EO; (3) 150 mg supplemental EO plus 560 mg alpha-amylase (EO + ENZ); and 4) 25 mg VM. Compared with the control, growth performance response to EO and VM were similar, enhancing (5.7%, p < 0.05) feed efficiency and observed dietary net energy. Compared with control, supplementation with EO + ENZ tended (p = 0.09) to increase dry matter intake (6.8%), improving (p < 0.05) weight gain and feed efficiency (10.4 and 4.4%, respectively). Dietary energy utilization was greater (2.7%, p < 0.05) for EO and VM than EO + ENZ. Treatment effects on the carcass and visceral mass were small, but additive supplementation decreased (p ≤ 0.03) the relative weight of the intestines. There were no treatment effects on measures of digestion nor digestible energy of the diet. Supplemental EO may be an effective alternative to VM in high-energy finishing diets for feedlot lambs. Combination EO + ENZ may further enhance dry matter intake, promoting increased weight gain.

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