Twenty adult goats, fitted with ruminal cannulae, were used to investigate the effects of dietary supplementation of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) mixtures on rumen fermentation, nutrient digestion and blood profiles. The wethers were assigned equally to one of the two dietary treatments according to a randomized controlled trial design. One dietary treatment was the basal diet, while the other was the CHM mixture diet consisting of the basal diet and the CHM mixture. Chinese Mosla, Atractylodes rhizome, Officinal Magnolia bark, white hyacinth bean and Liriope root tuber were mixed with a weight ratio of 8:4:4:4:5 to make up the CHM mixture. This mixture was added to the basal diet at 15 g/kg feed. The dietary supplementation of the mixture increased ruminal fluid concentrations of acetate, butyrate and total volatile fatty acids, and the ruminal activities of avicelase, carboxymethyl cellulase, cellobiase and xylanase. It also improved the ruminal effective degradability of dry matter, organic matter and amylase-treated ash-free neutral detergent fibre from the forage, apparent total tract digestibility of gross energy, dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, amylase-treated ash-free neutral detergent fibre, ash-free acid detergent fibre and calcium. Whole blood pH and concentrations of actual bicarbonate, buffer excess and magnesium ion, plasma concentrations of leptin, total protein, albumin, globulin, C-reactive protein, immunoglobulin A/G/M and complement 3/4 increased. Furthermore, plasma activities of nitric oxide synthase, glutathione peroxidase and total superoxide dismutase and plasma total antioxidative capacity increased. However, plasma concentrations of adrenocorticotropic hormone, aldosterone, cortisol, glucose, urea nitrogen and lactic acid and plasma activities of alanine transaminase, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase decreased. These results indicated that the dietary supplementation of the CHM mixture exerted some positive regulating effects on the nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system of goats, thus improving the functions of immunity and antioxidation, as well as the digestion and metabolism of nutrients. However, the CHM mixture did not affect their rumen fermentation patterns.
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