The beneficial properties of mushrooms’ bioactive compounds indicate their potential for use as performance-enhancing natural additives for livestock animals. A study was undertaken to evaluate the effects of diets supplemented with mushroom myceliated grains (MMGs) fed to dairy ewes on intestinal parasite load, milk production, milk fatty acid (FA) composition, and cheese oxidative stability. During an 8-week experimental period, 21 lactating Valle del Belice ewes were divided into 3 groups named MMG20, MMG10, and MMG0. Ewes in each group were fed hay ad libitum and 1.3 kg/day/head of 1 of 3 concentrates with MMGs at 20% (MMG20), 10% (MMG10), or 0% (MMG0). The ewes fed MMG20 had comparable dry matter (DM) and nutrients intake, fewer intestinal parasite infections, a tendency toward higher milk yield, and higher milk casein content (4.78% in MMG20 vs. 4.32% in MMG10 and 4.27% in MMG0; P < 0.05), and they produced cheese with less intense yellow color and a lower secondary lipid oxidation, than the ewes in the MMG10 and MMG0 groups. A higher antioxidant capacity was observed (17.83 mmol Trolox equivalent/kg DM in the MMG20 group vs. 9.97 and 9.18 mmol Trolox equivalent/kg DM in the MMG10 and MMG0 groups, respectively; P < 0.001), suggesting a higher oxidative stability of cheese fat and a probable enrichment of cheese with antioxidant compounds inherent in or induced by MMGs. The inclusion of MMGs in the diet did not affect the amounts of health-promoting polyunsaturated FAs in milk, with the exception of n-3 eicosapentaenoic acid, which was found only in milk from the MMG-treated ewes. These promising results merit further investigation into the potential use of medicinal mushrooms to enhance animal health and production.
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Drug Discovery