Short communication: Cinnamaldehyde taste preferences of weaned dairy heifers


Within a dairy enterprise, one major cost is raising young calves. Optimizing the feeding programs of dairy calves is imperative for the sustainability and profitability of dairy operations. Essential oils appear to be natural alternatives to antibiotics and function similarly to ionophores. Supplemental antibiotic ionophores have been very successful in improving feed efficiency and rate of gain in calves, as well as decreasing disease incidences; however, calves may be developing resistance to ionophores and the use of antibiotics in animal feeds has been a major concern for consumers. No current research has examined the value or palatability of supplementing essential oils to dairy heifers. The purpose of this sequential elimination experiment was to evaluate the taste preferences of 6 weaned dairy heifers [approximately 3 mo old; 95 ± 10.8 kg of body weight (BW)] provided with 0 (control), 1, 2, 3, or 4 mg/kg of BW of cinnamaldehyde daily. Heifers had 2 d of adaptation to the new feeding regimen before the experiment started and were then offered the 5 experimental diets for 5 d. The most preferred diet was removed and the study continued with the 4 remaining diets. The most preferred diets were again eliminated sequentially, so that only 2 diets remained on d 13 and 14. Each diet was ranked based on the weight of feed refused at the end of each feeding segment. Overall ranking of the 5 treatments were control, 2, 1, 3, and 4 mg/kg of BW of cinnamaldehyde. Results indicated that heifers preferred diets without cinnamaldehyde; however, when only cinnamaldehyde diets remained, dry matter intake was not negatively affected regardless of the concentration of cinnamaldehyde provided.


Biological Sciences

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Dairy Science



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type



© 2016 American Dairy Science Association®.