The Use of Essential Oils as Rumen Modifier in Dairy Cows

Dewi Ayu Ratih Daning, C Hanim, B P Widyobroto, L M Yusiati


Feed efficiency is essential for dairy cows because it can increase production and quality of milk, and reduce methane emissions in the environment. One of the strategies on increasing feed efficiency is using rumen modifier. Essential oils have antimicrobial activities and have been used in rumen modifier in dairy cows. The aim of this paper is to review several studies on the utilization of essential oils as feed additive to enhance production and quality of milk of dairy cow. Based on some research reports, using essential oils which contained thymol, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde and carvacrol in dairy cattle feed decreased the population of protozoa, methanogens, proteolytic, and biohydrogenase bacteria. The impact of engineering of the rumen microbial population has led to optimal rumen fermentation resulted in the efficiency of carbohydrate, protein, and fat utilizations. It can be concluded that essential oils are potential as rumen modifier by inhibit methanogenesis, increase propionate, energy efficiency and ruminal by pass protein. The inconsistent results on milk production and milk fat requires further research to study deeper the effect of dosage and type of essential oils on dairy cows  performance.


Essential oil; rumen modifier; milk production; milk quality

Full Text:



Agustina T. 2015. Outlook Komoditas Pertanian Subsektor Peternakan (Susu). 1st ed. Jakarta: Pusat Data dan Sistem Informasi Pertanian Sekretariat Jenderal Kementerian Pertanian.

Benchaar C. 2020. Feeding oregano oil and its main component carvacrol does not affect ruminal fermentation , nutrient utilization , methane emissions , milk production , or milk fatty acid composition of dairy cows. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. Available from:

Benchaar C, Calsamiglia S, Chaves AV., Fraser GR, Colombatto D, McAllister TA, Beauchemin KA. 2008. A review of plant-derived essential oils in ruminant nutrition and production. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 145:209–228.

Benchaar C, Duynisveld JL, Charmley E. 2006. Effects of monensin and increasing dose levels of a mixture of essential oil compounds on intake, digestion and growth performance of beef cattle. Can J Anim Sci. 86:91–96.

Benchaar C, Petit HV., Berthiaume R, Ouellet DR, Chiquette J, Chouinardt PY. 2007. Effects of essential oils on digestion, ruminai fermentation, rumen microbial populations, milk production, and milk composition in dairy cows fed alfalfa silage or corn silage. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 90:886–897. Available from:

Benchaar C, Petit HV., Berthiaume R, Whyte TD, Chouinard PY. 2006. Effects of addition of essential oils and monensin premix on digestion, ruminal fermentation, milk production, and milk composition in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 89:4352–4364.

Blanch M, Carro MD, Ranilla MJ, Viso A, Vázquez-Añón M, Bach A. 2016. Influence of a mixture of cinnamaldehyde and garlic oil on rumen fermentation, feeding behavior and performance of lactating dairy cows. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 219:313–323.

Braun HS, Schrapers KT, Mahlkow-Nerge K, Stumpff F, Rosendahl J. 2019. Dietary supplementation of essential oils in dairy cows: Evidence for stimulatory effects on nutrient absorption. Animal. 13:518–523.

Busquet M, Calsamiglia S, Ferret A, Kamel C. 2005. Screening for effects of plant extracts and active compounds of plants on dairy cattle rumen microbial fermentation in a continuous culture system. 124:597–613.

Castillejos L, Calsamiglia S, Ferret A. 2006a. Effect of essential oil active compounds on rumen microbial fermentation and nutrient flow in in vitro systems. J Dairy Sci. 89:2649–2658.

Castillejos L, Calsamiglia S, Ferret A. 2006b. Effect of essential oil active compounds on rumen microbial fermentation and nutrient flow in in vitro systems. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 89:2649–2658. Available from:

Castillejos L, Calsamiglia S, Martín-Tereso J, Ter Wijlen H. 2008. In vitro evaluation of effects of ten essential oils at three doses on ruminal fermentation of high concentrate feedlot-type diets. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 145:259–270.

Chamberlin A, JM Wilkinson. 2009. feeding the dairy cow. 4th ed. UNited Kongdom: Chalcombe publications.

Chapman CE, Chester-Jones H, Ziegler D, Clapper JA, Erickson PS. 2017. Effects of cinnamaldehyde or monensin on performance of weaned Holstein dairy heifers. J Dairy Sci. 100:1712–1719.

Dai X, Faciola AP. 2019. Evaluating Strategies to Reduce Ruminal Protozoa and Their Impacts on Nutrient Utilization and Animal Performance in Ruminants – A Meta-Analysis. Front Microbiol [Internet]. 10:1–16. Available from:

Drong C, Meyer U, von Soosten D, Frahm J, Rehage J, Breves G, Dänicke S. 2016. Effect of monensin and essential oils on performance and energy metabolism of transition dairy cows. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 100:537–551.

Elcoso G, Zweifel B, Bach A. 2019. Effects of a blend of essential oils on milk yield and feed efficiency of lactating dairy cows. Appl Anim Sci [Internet]. 35:304–311. Available from:

Faleiro M.L. 2011. The mode of antibacterial action of essential oils. Sci against Microb Pathog Commun Curr Res Technol Adv. 3:1143–1156.

Flores AJ, Garciarena AD, Hernández Vieyra JM, Beauchemin KA, Colombatto D. 2013. Effects of specific essential oil compounds on the ruminal environment, milk production and milk composition of lactating dairy cows at pasture. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 186:20–26.

Flour-Paneri P, Giannenas EC and I. 2019. Feed Additives (Aromatic Plants and Herbs in Animal Nutrition and Health) [Internet]. 1st ed. 125 London wall, London, United Kingdom: Academic Press, Elsevier. Available from:

Friggens NC, Oldham JD, Dewhurst RJ, Horgan G. 1998. Proportions of Volatile Fatty Acids in Relation to the Chemical Composition of Feeds Based on Grass Silage. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 81:1331–1344. Available from:

Giannenas I, Skoufos J, Giannakopoulos C, Wiemann M, Gortzi O, Lalas S, Kyriazakis I. 2011. Effects of essential oils on milk production, milk composition, and rumen microbiota in Chios dairy ewes. J Dairy Sci. 94:5569–5577.

Günal M, Pinski B, AbuGhazaleh AA. 2017a. Evaluating the effects of essential oils on methane production and fermentation under in vitro conditions. Ital J Anim Sci. 16:500–506.

Günal M, Pinski B, AbuGhazaleh AA. 2017b. Evaluating the effects of essential oils on methane production and fermentation under in vitro conditions. Ital J Anim Sci. 16:500–506.

Hart KJ, Jones HG, Waddams KE, Worgan HJ, Zweifel B, Newbold CJ. 2019. An Essential Oil Blend Decreases Methane Emissions and Increases Milk Yield in Dairy Cows. :259–267.

Holzer P. 2010. TRP Channels in the Digestive System. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 12:24–34.

Jacobs J. 2002. Feeding Dairy Cows. Victoria,Australis: The State of Victoria, Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Joch M, Kudrna V, Hakl J, Božik M, Homolka P, Illek J, Tyrolová Y, Výborná A. 2019. In vitro and in vivo potential of a blend of essential oil compounds to improve rumen fermentation and performance of dairy cows. Anim Feed Sci Technol [Internet]. 251:176–186. Available from:

Jouany JP, Morgavi DP. 2007. Use of “natural” products as alternatives to antibiotic feed additives in ruminant production. Animal. 1:1443–1466.

Khateri N, Azizi O, Jahani-Azizabadi H. 2017. Effects of a specific blend of essential oils on apparent nutrient digestion, rumen fermentation and rumen microbial populations in sheep fed a 50:50 alfalfa hay:concentrate diet. Asian-Australasian J Anim Sci. 30:370–378.

Khiaosa-ard R, Zebeli Q. 2013. Meta-analysis of the effects of essential oils and their bioactive compounds on rumen fermentation characteristics and feed ef fi ciency in ruminants 1. 2006:1819–1830.

Kholif AE, Hassan AA, El Ashry GM, Bakr MH, El-Zaiat HM, Olafadehan OA, Matloup OH, Sallam SMA. 2020. Phytogenic feed additives mixture enhances the lactational performance, feed utilization and ruminal fermentation of Friesian cows. Anim Biotechnol [Internet]. 0:1–11. Available from:

Klevenhusen F, Muro-Reyes A, Khiaosa-ard R, Metzler-Zebeli BU, Zebeli Q. 2012. A meta-analysis of effects of chemical composition of incubated diet and bioactive compounds on in vitro ruminal fermentation. Anim Feed Sci Technol [Internet]. 176:61–69. Available from:

Klop G, Dijkstra J, Dieho K, Hendriks WH, Bannink A. 2017. Enteric methane production in lactating dairy cows with continuous feeding of essential oils or rotational feeding of essential oils and lauric acid. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 100:3563–3575. Available from:

Kotsampasi B, Tsiplakou E, Christodoulou C, Mavrommatis A, Mitsiopoulou C, Karaiskou C, Sossidou E, Fragioudakis N, Kapsomenos I, Bampidis VA, et al. 2018. Effects of dietary orange peel essential oil supplementation on milk yield and composition, and blood and milk antioxidant status of dairy ewes. Anim Feed Sci Technol. 245:20–31.

Kung L, Williams P, Schmidt RJ, Hu W. 2008. A blend of essential plant oils used as an additive to alter silage fermentation or used as a feed additive for lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 91:4793–4800.

Martín-Tereso J, Martens H. 2014. Calcium and Magnesium Physiology and Nutrition in Relation to the Prevention of Milk Fever and Tetany (Dietary Management of Macrominerals in Preventing Disease). Vet Clin North Am - Food Anim Pract. 30:643–670.

Matloup OH, Tawab AMA El, Hassan AA, Hadhoud FI, Khattab MSA, Khalel MS, Sallam SMA, Kholif AE. 2017. Performance of lactating Friesian cows fed a diet supplemented with coriander oil_ Feed intake, nutrient digestibility, ruminal fermentation, blood chemistry, and milk production. Anim Feed Sci Technol [Internet]. 226:88–97. Available from:

McDonald P, Edwards RA, Greenhalgh JFD, Morgan CA, Sinclair LA, Wilkinson RG. 2010. Animal Nutrition. 7th ed. Edinburg, UK: Pearson.

Mcintosh FM, Williams P, Losa R, Wallace RJ, Beever DA, Newbold CJ. 2003. Effects of Essential Oils on Ruminal Microorganisms and Their Protein Metabolism. 69:5011–5014.

Ministry of Trade RI. 2011. Indonesian Essential Oils : The Scents of Natural Life. Indones Essent Oil Secents Nat Life. 1st:52.

Mirzaei-Alamouti H, Moradi S, Shahalizadeh Z, Razavian M, Amanlou H, Harkinezhad T, Jafari-Anarkooli I, Deiner C, Aschenbach JR. 2016. Both monensin and plant extract alter ruminal fermentation in sheep but only monensin affects the expression of genes involved in acid-base transport of the ruminal epithelium. Anim Feed Sci Technol [Internet]. 219:132–143. Available from:

Morgavi DP, Martin C, Jouany JP, Ranilla MJ. 2012. Rumen protozoa and methanogenesis: Not a simple cause-effect relationship. Br J Nutr. 107:388–397.

Nilius B, Szallasi A. 2014. Transient receptor potential channels as drug targets: From the science of basic research to the art of medicine. Pharmacol Rev. 66:676–814.

Nooriyan Soroor ME, Rouzbehan Y. 2017. Effect of essential oils of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus labill) and angelica (Heracleum persicum desf. ex fischer) on in vitro ruminal fermentation, protozoal population and methane emission using afshari sheep inoculum. J Agric Sci Technol. 19:553–567.

Oh J, Harper M, Giallongo F, Bravo DM, Wall EH, Hristov AN. 2017. Effects of rumen-protected Capsicum oleoresin on immune responses in dairy cows intravenously challenged with lipopolysaccharide. J Dairy Sci. 100:1902–1913.

Oh J, Harper M, Hristov AN. 2019a. Effects of lowering crude protein supply alone or in a combination with essential oils on productivity, rumen function and nutrient utilization in dairy cows. Animal.:1–9.

Oh J, Harper M, Hristov AN. 2019b. Effects of lowering crude protein supply alone or in a combination with essential oils on productivity, rumen function and nutrient utilization in dairy cows. Animal. 13:2510–2518.

Patra AK, Yu Z. 2012. Effects of Essential Oils on Methane Production and Fermentation by , and Abundance and Diversity of , Rumen Microbial Populations. 78:4271–4280.

Patra AK, Yu Z. 2015. Essential oils affect populations of some rumen bacteria in vitro as revealed by microarray (RumenBactArray) analysis. Front Microbiol. 6:1–13.

Rosendahl J, Braun HS, Schrapers KT, Martens H, Stumpff F. 2016. Evidence for the functional involvement of members of the TRP channel family in the uptake of Na+ and NH4+ by the ruminal epithelium. Pflugers Arch Eur J Physiol [Internet]. 468:1333–1352. Available from:

Santos MB, Robinson PH, Williams P, Losa R. 2010. Effects of addition of an essential oil complex to the diet of lactating dairy cows on whole tract digestion of nutrients and productive performance. Anim Feed Sci Technol [Internet]. 157:64–71. Available from:

Schären M, Drong C, Kiri K, Riede S, Gardener M, Meyer U, Hummel J, Urich T, Breves G, Dänicke S. 2017. Differential effects of monensin and a blend of essential oils on rumen microbiota composition of transition dairy cows. J Dairy Sci.

Schrapers KT, Sponder G, Liebe F, Liebe H, Stumpff F. 2018. The bovine TRPV3 as a pathway for the uptake of Na+, Ca2+, and NH4+. PLoS One. 13:1–28.

Shaaban HAE, El-Ghorab AH, Shibamoto T. 2012. Bioactivity of essential oils and their volatile aroma components: Review. J Essent Oil Res. 24:203–212.

Shwerab AM, Khalel MS, Hassan AAK. 2014. The Act of Eucalyptus Leaves as Source of Essential Oils on Dairy Cows Performance. Egypt J Nutr Feed. 17:207–224.

Silva GG, Takiya CS, Valle TA Del, Jesus EF De, Grigoletto NTS, Nakadonari B, Cortinhas CS, Acedo TS, Rennó FP. 2018. Nutrient digestibility , ruminal fermentation , and milk yield in dairy cows fed a blend of essential oils and amylase. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 101:9815–9826. Available from:

Silva RB da, Pereira MN, Araujo RC de, Silva W de R, Pereira RAN. 2020. A blend of essential oils improved feed efficiency and affected ruminal and systemic variables of dairy cows. Transl Anim Sci. 4:182–193.

Soltan MAEK, Shewita RS, Al-Sultan SI. 2009. Influence of essential oils supplementation on digestion, rumen fermentation, rumen microbial populations and productive performance of dairy cows. Asian J Anim Sci. 3:1–12.

Tager LR, Krause KM. 2011. Effects of essential oils on rumen fermentation, milk production, and feeding behavior in lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 94:2455–2464. Available from:

Tassoul MD, Shaver RD. 2009. Effect of a mixture of supplemental dietary plant essential oils on performance of periparturient and early lactation dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 92:1734–1740.

Tekippe JA, Tacoma R, Hristov AN, Lee C, Oh J, Heyler KS, Cassidy TW, Varga GA, Bravo D. 2013. Effect of essential oils on ruminal fermentation and lactation performance of dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 96:7892–7903.

Thomassen MA, Dolman MA, van Calker KJ, de Boer IJM. 2009. Relating life cycle assessment indicators to gross value added for Dutch dairy farms. Ecol Econ [Internet]. 68:2278–2284. Available from:

Thormar H. 2011. Lipids and Essential Oils as Antimicrobial Agents. United Kongdom: Wiley.

Tsai ML, Wu CT, Lin TF, Lin WC, Huang YC, Yang CH. 2013. Chemical composition and biological properties of essential oils of two mint species. Trop J Pharm Res. 12:577–582.

Vakili AR, Khorrami B, Mesgaran MD, Parand E. 2013. The effects of thyme and cinnamon Essential oils on performance, rumen fermentation and blood metabolites in Holstein calves consuming high concentrate diet. Asian-Australasian J Anim Sci. 26:935–944.

Wilkens MR, Kunert-Keil C, Brinkmeier H, Schröder B. 2009. Expression of calcium channel TRPV6 in ovine epithelial tissue. Vet J. 182:294–300.

Young G. 2019. Essential oils pocket references. 8th ed. China: Life Science Publishing.

Young RT. 2014. Essential Oil Safety- Robert Tisserand. 2nd ed. Williamson EM, editor. London: Elsevier B.V.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)  2020 WARTAZOA. Indonesian Bulletin of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.