Among the new products on display at the NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, “Next Enhance,” a new feed supplement from Novus International, sounded the tastiest.

Next Enhance is a plant-extract product derived from cinnamon and garlic oils. It probably would go well in a curry sauce, but is designed to use in feedyard rations. Stephanie Gable, global market manager for Novus, says multiple trials have shown the product favorably modifies rumen fermentation to significantly improve average daily gain and feed efficiency in growing and finishing cattle.

In a Novus summary of seven finishing trials conducted in the European Union and four in the United States, data show an average of about a 5 percent improvement in average daily gain and feed efficiency.

In a University of Illinois finishing trial using 158 steers, researchers fed Next Enhance to a control and a treatment group, and fed Rumensin to both groups. Over a 125-day feeding period, the group fed Next Enhance plus Rumensin had 4.5 percent better average daily gains and 4.8 percent better feed conversion than the group fed Rumensin alone.

Gable says the product – derived from natural plant extracts – also fits in natural feeding programs. In a South Dakota natural-finishing trial, a group fed Next Enhance showed a 3.5 percent improvement in feed intake and a 4.5 percent improvement in average daily gain.

The active ingredients in Next Enhance are essential plant oils, which are volatile when exposed to air, Gable explains. So Novus uses a patented microencapsulation system called “Naturecoat” to seal the oils in tiny beads, protecting against volatilization until the feed reaches the animal’s rumen. The concept is similar to skilled chefs using freshly ground spices rather than powdered versions out of a jar, which have lost most of their essential oils and flavor during storage.

Gable says the product should be fed throughout the feeding period, and at a cost of just $0.04 per head per day, has shown to produce at least a five-to-one economic return on investment.

In these days of historically high feed costs, a product that improves gains and feed conversions might just be worth a … taste test.