We bet you’ve never heard “essential oils and cattle” used in the same sentence. More and more in agriculture, scientists find that what’s good for the goose (humans) may also be good for the gander (livestock) when it comes to the use of essential oils.

Essential oils have gained traction in the agriculture industry as a crucial component of healthy herd diets. Regular use of precise essential oil blends may reduce farmers’ reliance on antibiotics in pets, small herds on hobby farms, and massive beef and dairy operations.

At New Heritage Feed Co, we remain on the leading edge of research and new trends in holistic feeding practices that naturally promote your herd’s comprehensive wellness.

Visit our website to find out more about our Sweet Calf Starter, Dairy Beef Grower, and Beef Finisher feed varieties. They are all made with our wellness-promoting proprietary essential oil blend for cattle.

several cows grazing

What is an Essential Oil?

Essential oils come from plants, specifically the roots, stems, leaves, needles, rind, or seeds. Fun fact: the common herbs and spices you find in your kitchen can typically be found in essential oil form as well.

Getting the essential oils from select plants involves steam extraction from a still, or expeller, or “cold” pressing (with citrus rinds.) After steam extraction, plant oils are mixed with water in collecting vessels.  The oil separates from the condensed steam and floats on the water surface for easy collection for bottling or blending.

Essential oils have enjoyed popularity for centuries in homeopathic healing, and “folk” healing. Also, they lend aroma to soap, bathwater, or for adding flavor to cooking. The Egyptians get credit for the earliest documented use of essential oils as far back as 3000 BC.

Essential Oil Varieties Used in Agriculture

Essential oils and cattle come together when promoting herd health. Disease resistance, animal growth, feed conversion ratio, meat color, and meat oxidative status are all influenceable. Several varieties of essential oil have proven to have antibacterial and other health and productivity-promoting properties. These varieties include:

  • Cloves and Cinnamon: Have an antimicrobial effect in the rumen, as well as being potent antioxidants
  • Thyme: Stimulates the digestive system and may promote animal growth and productivity
  • Vanilla: May improve feed intake and efficiency
  • Oregano: Has documented antibacterial and antimicrobial properties

Typically, if added to cattle feed, several essential oils may be blended for maximum efficiency. Plus, it’s crucial to get the benefits of the oils without compromising the feed’s taste. The most nutritious, health-promoting food source in the world isn’t worth very much if your cows won’t eat it!

Be sure to test a new feed out on your livestock before going “all-in.” When you switch feed sources, it may also be wise to mix in the fresh food a little at a time. Gradually decrease the old feed over several days or weeks.

This practice will ensure a smooth transition and give you a way to observe the herd’s response to their new vittles while saving you money on any wasted food your herd won’t tolerate.

Vanilla essential oil

Essential oils and cattle

If essential oils and cattle intrigue you, don’t feel pressure to blend and administer essential oil to your herd yourself. You should leave the mixing and recipes to the experts, as essential oils have optimal use standards. Too much of a good thing is a “thing” in EO agricultural use.

“Concentrated” is a crucial word in the essential oil industry. It only takes a few drops to scent an entire bottle of lotion or soap, for example. The same principle applies to proprietary EO blends in livestock feed: a little goes a long way.

One study recommends only 3.5g per animal per day of an EO blend to promote best meat color and lipid oxidation values. Given an adult beef cow weighs around 2662 Kg (1210 lbs), it’s easy to see how effective EO’s are in tiny doses.

When choosing an essential oil blend for your livestock, focus on your goals. You’ll likely use different essential oils for building immunity versus encouraging growth and feed efficiency.

Thankfully, there are pre-blended cattle feeds on the market that take away all the essential oil guesswork. Never add essential oils to your feed without professional, qualified assistance.

Holistic is the New “Black” for Essential Oils and Cattle

Consumers and growers alike have mixed views about the extensive use of antibiotics for herd health. Plus, antibiotics may be used not to treat or prevent diseases in cattle populations, but also because they can help cattle grow faster and more efficiently use their food.

Science hasn’t uncovered precisely why this occurs, but some farmers may overuse antibiotics for this reason. The overuse of antibiotics can have negative effects that reach way beyond the pasture or feedlot.

Using antibiotics drives the bacteria’s evolution to become more resistant to the drugs available to control them. If you’ve ever heard the term “superbug,” that is the name given to resistant strains of bacteria in any species.

Plus, antibiotics kill off all the bacteria, even though cows and other livestock have plenty of helpful bacteria in their guts to assist with digestion. The ability to depend less on antibiotics is a significant benefit in natural feeds that contain helpful essential oils.

A holistic (non-chemical) approach to feeding your cattle can mean increased herd health and better disease prevention overall.

cow enjoying feed

A Safe Food Supply

The best way to ensure that antibiotics stay out of the meat we eat is to reduce the dependence on them from the start. Feeding your cattle from sources that promote healthy, efficient guts, provide superior nutrition, and naturally serve to reduce harmful bacteria and microbes is a smart choice.

New Heritage Feed Co. dedicates its practices to producing feed that naturally maintains healthy cattle from birth to adulthood.

Our nutrient and essential oil blends ensure your cattle build their natural defenses against disease while achieving superior growth and feed use over the lives of your cows.

Visit our website to learn more about the science behind our products, and our three cattle feed varieties. Then, discover a New Heritage Feed Co. distributor near you to stock up on healthy, natural cattle feed for any herd or farm size.