Responses to n-3 fatty acid (LCPUFA) supplementation of gestating gilts, and lactating and weaned sows

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  • Feeding n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) to gilts or sows has shown different responses to litter growth, pre-weaning mortality and subsequent reproductive performance of the sow. Two hypotheses were tested: (1) that feeding a marine oil-based supplement rich in protected n-3 LCPUFAs to gilts in established gestation would improve the growth performance of their litters; and (2) that continued feeding of the supplement during lactation and after weaning would offset the negative effects of lactational catabolism induced, using an established experimental model involving feed restriction of lactating primiparous sows. A total of 117 primiparous sows were pair-matched at day 60 of gestation by weight, and when possible, litter of origin, and were allocated to be either control sows (CON) fed standard gestation and lactation diets, or treated sows (LCPUFA) fed the standard diets supplemented with 84 g/day of a n-3 LCPUFA rich supplement, from day 60 of first gestation, through a 21-day lactation, and until euthanasia at day 30 of their second gestation. All sows were feed restricted during the last 7 days of lactation to induce catabolism, providing a background challenge against which to determine beneficial effects of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation on subsequent reproduction. In the absence of an effect on litter size or birth weight, n-3 LCPUFA tended to improve piglet BW gain from birth until 34 days after weaning (P = 0.06), while increasing pre-weaning mortality (P = 0.05). It did not affect energy utilization by the sow during lactation, thus not improving the catabolic state of the sows. Supplementation from weaning until day 30 of second gestation did not have an effect on embryonic weight, ovulation rate or early embryonic survival, but did increase corpora lutea (CL) weight (P = 0.001). Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels were increased in sow serum and CL (P < 0.001), whereas only DHA levels increased in embryos (P < 0.01). In conclusion, feeding n-3 LCPUFA to gilts tended to improve litter growth, but did not have an effect on overall subsequent reproductive performance.

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    © The Animal Consortium 2012
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    • Smit, M. N., Patterson, J. L., Webel, S. K., Spencer, J. D., Cameron, A. C., Dyck, M. K., Dixon, W. T., & Foxcroft, G. R. (2012). Responses to n-3 fatty acid (LCPUFA) supplementation of gestating gilts, and lactating and weaned sows. Animal, 7(5), 784-792.
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