The objective of this 70-d study was to determine the effects of the essential oil cinnamaldehyde compared with the ionophore monensin on performance of weaned Holstein dairy heifers. Eighty-four Holstein dairy heifers (91 ± 3.33 d of age; 109 ± 7.55 kg) were housed in a naturally ventilated curtain sidewall, straw-bedded barn in 12 pens with 7 heifers/pen (3.98 m2/head). Heifers were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments in a completely randomized design: (1) control (CON; carrier, 908 g of ground corn), (2) monensin sodium [MON; 1 mg/kg of body weight (BW) + carrier], (3) cinnamaldehyde (CIN1; 1 mg/kg of BW + carrier), or (4) cinnamaldehyde (CIN2; 2 mg/kg of BW + carrier). The treatments were hand-mixed into a 20% crude protein (CP) whole shelled corn and protein pellet mix fed at 2.21 kg/heifer daily. Heifers had access to free-choice hay and water daily. Initial BW and hip heights were taken at the start of the study and every other week thereafter until calves reached 23 wk of age. Blood samples were also taken on each weigh day to determine plasma urea nitrogen, glucose, and insulin-like growth factor-1 concentrations. Fecal samples were taken from the same 3 heifers/pen initially and then at d 28, 56, and 70 of the study for coccidia counts. Cinnamaldehyde had no performance effects on growth, hay intake, hip height, or blood metabolites compared with MON or CON. Average daily gains were 0.98, 0.99, 1.01, and 1.03 kg/d, and average hay intakes per pen were 17.08, 16.34, 18.11, and 17.60 kg/d for CON, MON, CIN1, and CIN2, respectively. Fecal samples by pens indicated the presence of viable coccidia, but the counts were low and not consistent across heifers within each pen. No benefits were associated with supplementing cinnamaldehyde or monensin into grain mixes for weaned heifers.
- essential oil