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J Dairy Sci. 2010 Nov;93(11):5258-67. doi: 10.3168/jds.2009-2754.

In vitro evaluation of cashew nut shell liquid as a methane-inhibiting and propionate-enhancing agent for ruminants.

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Research Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.


Cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) containing antibacterial phenolic compounds was evaluated for its potency as a feed additive for ruminants. In experiment 1, ruminal responses to CNSL supplementation were assessed using a batch culture system. Rumen fluid from cattle was diluted with artificial saliva and incubated for 18h in a batch culture with a mixed diet containing a 30:70 hay:concentrate diet to which raw or heated CNSL was added at a final concentration of 500 μg/mL. In experiment 2, a Rusitec, using rumen fluid from the same cattle, was operated over a period of 7 d during which only raw CNSL was tested at concentrations of 0, 50, 100, or 200 μg/mL, and variations in fermentation and bacterial population were assessed. In experiment 3, a pure culture study was conducted using selected bacteria to determine their susceptibility to CNSL. In experiment 1, methane production was inhibited by raw CNSL (56.9% inhibition) but not by heated CNSL. Total volatile fatty acid concentration was not affected, whereas increased concentrations of propionate and decreased concentrations of acetate and butyrate were observed using either raw or heated CNSL. These changes were more obvious when raw CNSL was tested. In experiment 2, raw CNSL inhibited methanogenesis and increased propionate production in a dose-dependent manner, showing maximum methane inhibition (70.1%) and propionate enhancement (44.4%) at 200 μg/mL supplementation. Raw CNSL increased total volatile fatty acid concentration and dry matter digestibility. Raw CNSL also appeared to induce a dramatic shift in the population of rumen microbiota, based on decreased protozoa numbers and changes in quantitative PCR assay values for representative bacterial species. In experiment 3, using pure cultures, raw CNSL prevented the growth of hydrogen-, formate-, and butyrate-producing rumen bacteria, but not the growth of bacteria involved in propionate production. Based on these data, raw CNSL, rich in the antibacterial phenolic compound anacardic acid, is a potential candidate feed additive with selective activity against rumen microbes, leading to fermentation that results in decreased methane and enhanced propionate production.

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