• View in gallery

    Marginal mean ± SEM fat percentage in milk samples from goats that were fed a concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite (triangles; n = 36) or the same feed without clinoptilolite (squares; 36), as obtained on day 60 of lactation (month 1) and subsequently at monthly intervals during lactation until the start of the new nonlactating period (months 2 to 8). *Values at indicated time were significantly (P < 0.05) different between groups.

  • View in gallery

    Back-transformed marginal mean SCC (somatic cells/mL) in milk samples from goats that were fed a concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite (triangles; n = 36) or the same feed without clinoptilolite (squares; 36), as obtained on day 60 of lactation (month 1) and subsequently at monthly intervals during lactation until the start of the new nonlactating period (months 2 to 8). See Figure 1 for remainder of key.

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Effect of long-term dietary supplementation with clinoptilolite on performance and selected serum biochemical values in dairy goats

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  • 1 Clinic of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaly, 431 00 Karditsa, Greece.
  • | 2 Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Thessaly, 411 10 Larissa, Greece.
  • | 3 Laboratory of Clinical Diagnosis and Clinical Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • | 4 Clinic of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaly, 431 00 Karditsa, Greece.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of dietary supplementation with clinoptilolite on health and production as well as serum concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins, macroelements and trace elements, and activities of hepatic enzymes in dairy goats.

Animals—72 Saanen-cross dairy goats.

Procedures—Goats were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups. The clinoptilolite group (n = 36) received concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite; the control group (36) received unsupplemented feed. The experiment began 8 weeks before parturition and continued to the beginning of the next nonlactating period (280 days of lactation). At the day of parturition, kids were weighed. Milk yields were recorded at day 60 of lactation and thereafter at monthly intervals. Milk percentages of fat, protein, and lactose and somatic cell count (SCC) were evaluated at the same points. Blood samples were obtained at the beginning of the experiment, the day of parturition, and thereafter at monthly intervals to measure serum concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins, macroelements and trace elements, and activities of hepatic enzymes.

Results—Birth weights of triplets and quadruplets were significantly higher in clinoptilolite-treated goats versus control goats. Milk fat percentage was significantly higher and SCC was significantly lower in clinoptilolite-treated goats, compared with respective values in control goats. However, no changes in serum concentrations of any variable were detected.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In the context of this experiment, clinoptilolite supplementation of concentrate feed at 2.5% improved milk fat percentage in dairy goats, without adverse effects on the serum variables evaluated. Furthermore, the reduction of SCC achieved with clinoptilolite supplementation provided some evidence of improved milk hygiene.

Use of natural and synthetic zeolites in farm animal nutrition is increasing, mainly with the aim of improving performance and protecting against mycotoxin intoxication.1–3 Zeolites have unique properties such as the ability to lose and gain water reversibly, to adsorb molecules of a certain diameter (adsorption property) or act as molecular sieves, and to exchange their constituent cations without major change of their structure (ion-exchange property).4,5 These properties make zeolites useful in animal nutrition.

Because of the potential adsorbent and binding effects of zeolites, one of the major concerns that arise from their use as feed additives is whether long-term supplementation in ruminant rations affects an animal's physiologic status with respect to amounts of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. If a considerable amount of essential nutrients is rendered unavailable to the animals via feed, the consequent nutritional imbalances might have undesirable effects on performance and health status. There is a lack of experimental data regarding the effects of long-term feeding of clinoptilolite, a natural zeolite, to small ruminants, particularly goats, on their health and milk production.

In dairy cattle, long-term administration of clinoptilolite is associated with a significant increase in milk yield6,7 and milk fat percentage,8 without adverse effects on serum concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins9 and of certain trace minerals10 or macroelements.11 Furthermore, feeding clinoptilolite during the last month of the nonlactating period significantly reduces the incidence of acetonemia7 and of periparturient paresis.11

The main objective of the study reported here was to investigate the effects of the long-term supplementation of clinoptilolite in the concentrate feed of dairy goats on the weight of kids at birth and the production and composition of milk. A complementary objective was to evaluate the effects of clinoptilolite on serum activities of hepatic enzymes and serum concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins, macroelements, and trace elements when goats are fed for a prolonged period, starting 60 days before the expected day of parturition until the onset of the new nonlactating period.

Materials and Methods

Animals—The study was conducted on a farm of 115 Saanen-cross dairy goats in Central Greece. Seventy-two goats that had completed at least 1 lactation period and were judged to be healthy before the onset of the experiment were included in the study. All goats began a nonlactating period 1 month before the start of the experiment, which was scheduled to begin 8 weeks before the expected day of parturition. Each goat was identified by an ear tag. The herd had a seasonal breeding pattern, which started at the end of August and finished by the end of September. Therefore, the kidding period started approximately in February, and dams suckled their kids for 30 to 50 days, after which kids were abruptly weaned. The farm was located in a plain, and the goats were housed in a barn constructed according to the standards of the European Union, with natural ventilation and machine milking and milk recording facilities.

All goats were machine milked twice a day (6:00 AM and 6:00 PM) for 7 months. No teat preparation occurred before milking, but after milking, each teat was scrubbed with a cotton cloth soaked with 0.5% iodine solution. According to the farm records, the mean annual milk yield per doe for 2005 was 575 L. All goats were routinely dewormed and vaccinated against Clostridium spp and Chlamydophila abortus once a year.

The herd was certified free of brucellosis, Mycoplasma agalactiae infection, caprine arthritis, and encephalitis virus infection. Owner consent was obtained for this experiment, and the study protocol was approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of the District Veterinary Service of Karditsa prefecture, Greece.

Zeolitic material—The zeolitic material used in the experiment was derived from the zeolite deposits of the Metaxades region (Thrace, Northeastern Greece). It contained approximately 89% clinoptilolite, 6% plagioclastes and feldspars, 3% micas and clay minerals, and 2% quartz as determined by use of x-ray powder diffraction. The cation exchange capacity of the material was 226 mEq/100 g, and its chemical composition was as follows: SiO2, 67.87%; TiO2, < 0.01%; Al2O3, 12.03%; Fe2O3, < 0.01%; MnO, < 0.01%; μgO, 0.89%; CaO, 3.10%; Na2O, 0.51%; K2O, 2.48%; and H2O, 13.12%. The ratio of silicon to aluminum was 4.8.

Experimental design—Goats were randomly assigned to receive a concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite (clinoptilolite group) or a similar concentrate feed without clinoptilolite (control group) throughout the experiment. The feed concentrates for both groups were isonitrogenous and isoenergetic and contained the same content of macroelements and the same mixture of vitamins and trace minerals, all of which were added at the same percentages (Appendix). The experiment began 8 weeks before parturition and continued to the beginning of the next nonlactating period (280 days of lactation).

The groups were housed throughout the stall in 2 separate straw-bedded pens that were naturally ventilated. Each pen was equipped with separate feed boxes for concentrates, hay, and silage as well as a plastic trough providing a constant supply of fresh water. In each pen, goats were fed forages and concentrates as a group.

During the nonlactating period, each goat was offered 2 kg of corn silage, 0.9 kg of alfalfa hay, and 0.5 kg of concentrate feed on a daily basis. These quantities were sufficient to meet their nutrient requirements for maintenance and the development of twins.12 During lactation, all goats were offered 2 kg of corn silage, 0.9 kg of alfalfa hay, and 1.2 kg of concentrate feed on a daily basis. The amount of concentrate feed provided was gradually reduced after the sixth month of lactation to 0.5 kg at the end of the milking period. These quantities were sufficient to meet their nutrient requirements for maintenance of body weight and milk production.12

Sample collection and measurements—Blood samples were collected from each goat via jugular venipuncture (18-gauge needle) into evacuated glass tubes after morning milking on the first day of the experiment, on the day of parturition, and at monthly intervals until the end of lactation. Blood samples were allowed to clot, and the serum was separated by use of low-speed centrifugation (1,600 × g for 15 minutes), transferred into plastic vials, and forwarded to the laboratory for biochemical analysis. Serum concentration of vitamin E was determined by use of a fluorometric method,13 and that of vitamin A was determined via a colorimetric method as described elsewhere.14 Serum concentrations of total calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc were determined by means of flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry with an analyst instrument.a Serum concentration of inorganic phosphorus was measured by use of the heteropoly blue method.15 Serum activities of AST16 and GGT17 were measured as described elsewhere. Blood samples obtained on the day of parturition were additionally analyzed for serum concentration of BHBA.18

On the day of parturition, the litter size for each goat was recorded and the kids were weighed. Milk yields from individual goats were recorded at day 60 of lactation and thereafter at monthly intervals by means of the recording jars in the milking parlor until the commencement of the new nonlactating period. Milk composition (percentages of fat, protein, and lactose) and SCC were evaluated on the same days. Composite milk samples (approx 50 mL/sample) were placed in plastic vials, preserved with antimicrobial tablets, and transferred refrigerated to the clinical pathology laboratory of the University of Thessaly. The SCC was determined by use of an automatic analyzer.b Percentages of fat, protein, and lactose in milk were measured with an infrared milk analyzer.c

All goats were monitored for development of mastitis throughout the lactating period. Scheduled farm visits were performed at weekly intervals, and out-of-schedule visits were performed when the farm operators suspected individual goats of having mastitis. Any incident of abnormally appearing milk, swelling, edema, or pain of the mammary gland was recorded as mastitis, and data from the affected goat were excluded from the analysis for milk yield and milk composition.

Statistical analysis—Data were analyzed by use of a software program.19,d Normality of data distribution was assessed with the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, and homogeneity of variances was evaluated with the Levene test. Logarithmic transformation was applied to values of SCC. The effect of clinoptilolite on the weight of kids at birth and on the serum concentration of BHBA at the day of parturition was tested by use of ANOVA, with treatment group and type of birth (number of kids delivered from each goat) used as fixed factors. The main effects of group and type of birth as well as the interaction between group and type of birth were examined. To define the significance of the differences between treatment groups for each type of birth, the Student t test was used.

The long-term effect of the treatment on milk yield, SCC, percentages of fat, protein, and lactose in milk and the serum concentrations of biochemical variables were evaluated by means of repeated-measures ANOVA, with treatment group used as between-subject factor. At each sampling day, the data for each variable evaluated were additionally analyzed by means of ANOVA, with treatment group used as fixed factor. The significance of the differences between treatment groups was assessed with the least significant difference technique, and associated data were summarized as marginal mean ± SEM. The C2 test was used to determine whether the number of kids delivered and the incidence of the mastitis were significantly different between treatment groups. A value of P < 0.05 was considered significant in all comparisons.

Results

Animals—Thirty-six goats were assigned to receive feed supplemented with clinoptilolite (clinoptilolite group), and 36 others were assigned to receive the same feed without clinoptilolite (control group). Goats in each treatment group were similar in parity and number of fetuses carried, as determined via ultrasonography on day 60 of gestation. Goats in the clinoptilolite group had a mean ± SD parity of 3.1 ± 1.1 and carried a mean of 2.3 ± 1.1 fetuses. Those in the control group had a mean parity of 3.2 ± 1.1 and carried a mean of 2.4 ± 1.1 fetuses.

All parturitions in both treatment groups occurred within 12 days of each other. The nursing period lasted 40 to 50 days.

Effects of treatment—The number of days between the onset of the experiment and parturition was not significantly different between goats in the clinoptilolite group (mean ± SD, 58.4 ± 2.3 days) and those in the control group (59.1 ± 2.8 days). In total, 168 kids were delivered (83 in the clinoptilolite group and 85 in the control group), and the number of kids born in each group was not significantly different. In the clinoptilolite group, 11 goats gave birth to single kids, 10 delivered twins, 8 gave birth to triplets, and 7 delivered quadruplets. Respective numbers in the control group were 10, 11, 7, and 8.

Weight of kids at birth was affected by the dietary supplementation of clinoptilolite during the nonlactating period and was significantly (P = 0.001) higher in the clinoptilolite group versus the control group. In that analysis, the interaction between group and type of birth was also significant (P = 0.005). Weight of single and twin kids was not significantly different between groups (Table 1). However, triplet and quadruplet kids in the clinoptilolite group were significantly (P < 0.05) heavier at birth than those in the control group.

Table 1—

Marginal mean ± SEM body weight of kids at birth and serum concentrations of BHBA on the day of parturition in goats that were fed a concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite (clinoptilolite group; n = 36) or the same feed without clinoptilolite (control group; 36).

VariableClinoptilolite groupControl group
Birth weight of kids (kg)
   Singles4.87 ± 0.184.82 ± 0.14
   Twins4.28 ± 0.084.18 ± 0.09
   Triplets3.78 ± 0.103.51 ± 0.07
   Quadruplets3.59 ± 0.082.97 ± 0.06
   All kids3.97 ± 0.073.64 ± 0.08
Serum BHBA (mmol/L)
   Goats with singles0.77 ± 0.050.83 ± 0.07
   Goats with twins0.78 ± 0.020.84 ± 0.03
   Goats with triplets0.85 ± 0.021.08 ± 0.11
   Goats with quadruplets0.88 ± 0.071.13 ± 0.09

On the day of parturition, the mean serum concentration of BHBA was significantly (P = 0.001) lower in the clinoptilolite group versus the control group. The interaction between treatment group and type of birth was also significant (P = 0.03). Goats in the clinoptilolite group that delivered quadruplets had a significantly (P = 0.046) lower mean serum BHBA concentration than those of the control group. A similar, albeit insignificant (P = 0.08), effect of clinoptilolite was evident for delivery of triplets. In contrast, mean serum concentration of BHBA was not significantly different between treatment groups for goats that delivered single or twin kids (Table 1).

Mastitis was detected in 3 goats in the control group and in none of the goats in the clinoptilolite group; this difference was not significant (P = 0.08). Data from the 3 mastitic goats were excluded from the analyses of milk yield and milk composition.

Mean daily milk yield was not significantly affected by dietary supplementation with clinoptilolite on a long-term basis (Table 2). Differences between treatment groups with respect to daily milk yield were not significant at any time. Mean milk fat percentage was influenced by long-term dietary supplementation with clinoptilolite and was significantly (P = 0.03) higher in the clinoptilolite group versus the control group. Mean milk fat percentage for the clinoptilolite group was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than that in the control group at the first 4 milk sample collection points, whereas no significant differences were detected between treatment groups at the other sample collection times (Figure 1). The logarithm of the SCC was significantly (P = 0.001) lower in the clinoptilolite group versus the control group throughout the milking period. Furthermore, the mean logarithm of the SCC was significantly (P < 0.05) lower in the clinoptilolite group versus the control group at the first 4 and the seventh milk sample collection points (Figure 2). On a long-term basis, milk lactose and protein percentages were not significantly affected by clinoptilolite supplementation and no significant difference was evident at the monthly milk sample collection points.

Table 2—

Marginal mean ± SEM daily milk yield and logarithm of the SCC and percentages of milk fat, lactose, and proteins for goats that were fed a concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite (clinoptilolite group; n = 36) or the same feed without clinoptilolite (control group; 36).

VariableClinoptilolite groupControl group
Daily milk yield (kg)3.63 ± 0.073.52 ± 0.07
Logarithm of the SCC5.84 ± 0.015.88 ± 0.01
Milk fat (%)3.98 ± 0.093.70 ± 0.09
Milk lactose (%)4.49 ± 0.014.48 ± 0.01
Milk protein (%)3.18 ± 0.063.27 ± 0.06
Figure 1—
Figure 1—

Marginal mean ± SEM fat percentage in milk samples from goats that were fed a concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite (triangles; n = 36) or the same feed without clinoptilolite (squares; 36), as obtained on day 60 of lactation (month 1) and subsequently at monthly intervals during lactation until the start of the new nonlactating period (months 2 to 8). *Values at indicated time were significantly (P < 0.05) different between groups.

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 70, 3; 10.2460/ajvr.70.3.346

Figure 2—
Figure 2—

Back-transformed marginal mean SCC (somatic cells/mL) in milk samples from goats that were fed a concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite (triangles; n = 36) or the same feed without clinoptilolite (squares; 36), as obtained on day 60 of lactation (month 1) and subsequently at monthly intervals during lactation until the start of the new nonlactating period (months 2 to 8). See Figure 1 for remainder of key.

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 70, 3; 10.2460/ajvr.70.3.346

Long-term dietary supplementation with clinoptilolite had no significant effect on serum concentrations of total calcium, inorganic phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E as well as serum activities of AST and GGT (Table 3). In addition, there was no significant difference in these values between treatment groups at any blood sample collection time.

Table 3—

Marginal mean and SEM serum concentrations of macroelements and vitamins and serum activities of hepatic enzymes in goats that were fed a concentrate feed, of which 2.5% contained clinoptilolite (clinoptilolite group; n = 36) or the same feed without clinoptilolite (control group; 36).

VariableClinoptilolite groupControl groupSEM
Total calcium (mmol/L)2.492.480.012
Inorganic phosphorus (mmol/L)2.112.060.033
Magnesium (mmol/L)1.041.020.008
Copper (μmol/L)15.4915.680.353
Zinc (μmol/L)18.9218.890.283
Vitamin A (μg/mL)0.220.230.003
Vitamin E (μg/mL)2.152.190.071
AST (U/L)120.07115.211.849
GGT (U/L)21.0320.640.366

Discussion

The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of the long-term dietary supplementation with clinoptilolite (such that it constituted 2.5% of the concentrate feed) on the performance and the health status of dairy goats. This degree of supplementation was selected because studies of dairy cows revealed that this amount was effective in reducing the incidence of metabolic diseases7,11 and increasing milk production.7

The dietary inclusion of clinoptilolite during the nonlactating period was associated with an increase in body weight of kids at birth, particularly the body weights of triplets and quadruplets. It is important to remember that the quantity of ration offered to the pregnant goats at this period was sufficient to meet their requirements for maintenance of body weight and the development of twins. These results probably indicate that the supplementation with clinoptilolite improved the energy status, protein status, or both in goats at this critical stage so they could effectively support the development of triplets and quadruplets. In support of this supposition, prepartum energy and protein restriction reportedly reduce the birth weight of kids by 6% to 10%.20

The improved energy status of the goats in the clinoptilolite group during the nonlactating period was additionally confirmed by the lower serum concentration of BHBA recorded at the day of parturition for goats that delivered triplets or quadruplets, compared with the concentration in the control group. The mechanisms by which clinoptilolite might have enhanced the energy metabolism of dairy goats are not clearly understood, but there are 2 possible explanations that may work alone or in combination. The first is that clinoptilolite may have yielded an increase in the total production of volatile fatty acids or altered the acetate-to-propionate ratio because volatile fatty acids are considered the main source of energy for ruminants. An increase in total concentration of volatile fatty acids, without differences in individual fatty acid concentrations, has been detected in vitro during continuous culture fermentation when clinoptilolite constitutes 2% of the ration.e In contrast, increases in rumen concentrations of acetate and propionate have been recorded for steers that received a ration consisting of 5%21 and 2.5%22 clinoptilolite, respectively. The second possible explanation is that clinoptilolite might have improved postruminal digestion of starch. Zeolites can alter postruminal pH, providing an environment more conducive to the action of α-amylase pancreatic enzyme in the digestion of compounds containing starch.6

Other than the improvement of energy status, feeding clinoptilolite might have resulted in an increase in the birth weight of kids by increasing their dam's use of dietary proteins. Zeolites can increase the digestibility of crude proteins when added to the ration of growing lambs.23 Additionally, results of in vivo and in vitro research24 suggest that zeolites can sequester and subsequently release 15% of the ammonia in rumen content, allowing rumen microorganisms to synthesize cellular protein continuously, for easy assimilation into an animal's digestive system.

Dietary supplementation with clinoptilolite was associated with a significantly increased percentage of milk fat, compared with the percentage for goats that did not receive supplementation, whereas milk yield and percentages of milk protein and lactose were not affected. This is in accordance with the findings of other researchers,25 who reported an increase in milk fat percentage without changes in milk yield and the percentages of milk protein and lactose in dairy cows that daily received 160 g of an additive containing clinoptilolite. The higher milk fat percentage recorded for the clinoptilolite group in the present study suggested that clinoptilolite, when comprising 2.5% of the concentrate feed, mediated the maintenance of a favorable acetate-to-propionate ratio in the rumen for milk fat synthesis because acetate is the main precursor of milk fat.26 An increase in rumen acetate concentration has been reported for steers that received feed, 5% of which was clinoptilolite.21 However, this effect was not detected after the fourth month of the milking period in the present study, probably because the daily amount of the concentrate feed offered to the goats of both groups was gradually reduced, changing the forage-to-concentrate ratio in the ration.

The SCC in milk can only be indirectly affected by nutrition. Poor nutrition may predispose ruminants to metabolic and infectious diseases, which can increase the susceptibility of mammary glands to inflammation.27 It is possible that the goats that received clinoptilolite in the present study, having an improved energy status compared with that at the beginning of the lactating period, more quickly and efficiently dealt with intramammary infections, which resulted in a lower SCC in milk, compared with the SCC for goats in the control group. This proportion of goats with mastitis in the clinoptilolite group was lower, albeit insignificantly, than the proportion in the control group. Another explanation might be that clinoptilolite reduced the SCC in milk from the clinoptilolite group because of its ability to adsorb mycotoxins.28–30 It is known that mycotoxins cause some degree of immunosuppression.31 Dairy cattle that consume a ration contaminated with mycotoxins develop a decrease in serum immunoglobulin A concentration, but this reduction can be prevented by the concurrent consumption of an adsorbent.32 Furthermore, milk from dairy cows that receive a ration containing mycotoxins and clinoptilolite has a lower SCC, compared with milk from those that receive the same ration without clinoptilolite added.25 In dairy goats, SCCs progressively increase during the lactation period.33,34 This is probably the reason for the lack of significant differences in SCC between treatment groups in the present study during the last months of the lactating period.

The serum biochemical values measured in the present study were used as indicators of the health status of the goats and were also used to detect potential deficiencies that might have been caused by clinoptilolite administration. Although serum biochemical values do not always reflect the whole-body status with respect to amounts of vitamins and minerals, monthly evaluation of these variables for nearly a complete milk production year allowed a good means of monitoring goats for any nutritional imbalances.

The dietary use of clinoptilolite raises concern about its potential interaction with the dietary macroelements because of its nonspecific adsorption property and its ion-exchange ability. The results of the present study supported the supposition that inclusion of clinoptilolite to constitute 2.5% of concentrate feed does not impair the bioavailability of the macroelements calcium, inorganic phosphorus, and magnesium; serum concentrations of these elements remained within respective reference ranges35 and were not significantly different between groups at any blood collection point or during the study period. To our knowledge, there are no other available data about the effect of clinoptilolite on serum macroelement concentrations in dairy goats, but similar results were obtained in other experiments in which the effects of clinoptilolite in dairy cows11 and swine36,37 were evaluated on a long-term basis.

In the present study, clinoptilolite supplementation in the amount of 2.5% of concentrate feed did not affect serum concentrations of vitamins A and E, which remained within respective reference ranges35 in both treatment groups throughout the experiment. Similar results were obtained in studies conducted with dairy cows9 and sows.36 Clinoptilolite could impair the bioavailability of vitamins A and E via its adsorbent or binding effect on these vitamins or on other compounds related with the metabolism and absorption of the vitamins (eg, bile acids or lipids). Results of an in vitro study38 revealed that clinoptilolite does not adsorb vitamins A and E when added in synthetic gastric fluid,38 and possibly, this could explain why the long-term inclusion of clinoptilolite in concentrate feed had no adverse effects on the serum concentrations of these vitamins in the present study. Results of other studies indicate that clinoptilolite adsorbs bile acids39 and affects lipid metabolism in growing pigs by reducing serum lipid concentration in the mesenteric blood.40 However, such effects were not evident in our study and serum vitamin concentrations were unaffected, probably because of the low clinoptilolite content.

Serum copper and zinc concentrations remained within respective reference ranges35 in both treatment groups throughout the present study and were not significantly affected by dietary supplementation with clinoptilolite. This finding is similar to results in dairy cows that received 1.25% or 2.5% clinoptilolite10 and steers that received 3% clinoptilolite in their ration.41 In sheep, bentonite, a phyllosilicate similar to zeolites, reduces rumen solubility of copper as well as serum concentration of copper.42 In contrast to that finding, the results of the present study suggested that clinoptilolite did not impair the bioavailability of dietary copper. Evidence in the veterinary literature supports this supposition. For example, when clinoptilolite is fed to growing lambs as 3% of the dietary ration, no significant alteration in the concentration of copper in gastrointestinal lumen content develops.42 Furthermore, the chemisorption index of clinoptilolite for copper in synthetic gastric fluid in vitro is low.31 In the present study, the serum concentration of zinc was also not significantly different between treatment groups. This finding is likely attributable to the low selectivity of clinoptilolite for zinc31 and provides evidence of the different mode of action of clinoptilolite relative to that of phyllosilicates, which impair the absorption of dietary zinc.43,44

Concerning hepatic enzymes, mean values of serum SDH and GGT activities were not significantly different between treatment groups throughout the study period, suggesting that long-term supplementation of concentrate feed with clinoptilolite in dairy goats does not have any adverse effects on liver function and bile secretion. This is in agreement with results of other studies involving dairy cattle,7 sheep,40 swine,45 and mice.46

Abbreviations

AST

Aspartate aminotransferase

BHBA

β-Hydroxybutyrate

GGT

G-Glutamyltransferase

SCC

Somatic cell count

a.

Perkin Elmer A Analyst 100, The Perkin Elmer Co, Norwalk, Conn.

b.

Fossomatic 360, Fosselectric, Hillerød, Denmark.

c.

Milkoscan FT120, Fosselectric, Hillerød, Denmark.

d.

SPSS, version 12, SPSS Inc, Chicago, Ill.

e.

Pickett M, Cassidy TW, Varga GA. Effect of various zeolites on nutrient utilization by ruminal microorganisms during continuous culture fermentation (abstr). J Anim Sci 2002;80(suppl 1):58.

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Appendix

Composition of concentrate feeds provided to the 2 groups of goats in an experiment to evaluate the effects of clinoptilolite supplementation on health and production variables.

IngredientClinoptilolite groupControl group
Soybean meal (%)19.0016.00
Maize grains (%)30.0024.76
Wheat bran (%)12.2621.00
Sunflower meal (%)15.0017.00
Barley grains (%)20.0020.00
Salt (%)0.500.50
Dicalcium phosphate (%)0.500.50
Zinc oxide (%)0.040.04
Mixture of vitamins and trace minerals (%)*0.200.20
Clinoptilolite (%)2.500.00
Total (%)100100
Crude proteins (% as fed)18.9619.11
Net energy for lactation (Mcal/kg as fed)1.381.38
Calcium (%)0.260.26
Phosphorus (%)0.680.73

Provided the following per killigram of concentrates: vitamin A, 10,000 U; vitamin D3, 2,000 U; vitamin E, 25 mg; Co, 0.8 mg; I, 6.6 mg; Se, 0.3 mg; Fe, 100 mg; Mn, 50 mg; Zn, 150 mg; and Mg, 160 mg.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Katsoulos.