“Double A” (EPA and DHA): Nurturing our sows and piglets
Large-scale swine production has continued to undergo transformations and modern hyper prolific breeds has spread all around the world. These modern prolific breeds produce large litter sizes, with higher growth and fattening capability.
With the increase in litter size and striving to produce high quality piglets with high growing and fattening capability new problems start to emerge such as:
- Increasing stillborn rates.
- Piglets born with low viability – low birth weight, lesser developed, high pre-weaning mortality.
- Providing sows with adequate nutrition for intensive reproductive requirements
- Providing sows with adequate nutrition for secreting high-quality milk for pre-weaning piglets
Nutrition is one of the most important factors in large scale swine production and usually comprises of 70-80% of production costs. It is only natural for producers to either minimize feed costs or use feed materials/supplements that maximize the cost efficiency of feed for animal productivity. Satisfying the energy and nutrient requirements of the sows significantly influences the effectiveness of reproduction and the longevity of sow. As reproduction biology is one of the most critical strengths of these sows, it is logical to support this through appropriate feeding from an economic standpoint. Adequate energy provision improves reproductive performance as the energy surplus enhances the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) which in turn positively affect follicular growth and progesterone synthesis of corpus luteum (CL) and ovulation.
Figure 1 Biological effects of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
Conventional method includes supplementing fats and oils because of their high energy concentration. However, producers should look further than solely satisfying the energy requirements and consider the other physiological effects of the fats/oils used such as omega-3 fatty acids – namely “Double A”.
After the outbreak of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), the Chinese National Health Department clarified that omega-3 fatty acids should be used for enteral nutrition for patients, and fatty emulsions rich in EPA and DHA should be used for parenteral nutrition. The effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids against the new coronavirus has been officially affirmed. The use of omega-3 fatty acids in enteral nutrition considers the internal regulation and transformation of omega-3 metabolism in the intestines, while the use of EPA and DHA (or "double A") in parenteral nutrition directly adopts the "Double A"s ability to regulate physiological functions. Physicians have confirmed that fatty liver disease in animals induced by carbohydrates can be reversed by supplementing "Double A". "Double A" has also been affirmed to affect the human intestinal microbiome, inflammation, mood regulation, autism, brain function, tumour occurrence and development.
“Double A” and Inflammation
Most periparturient sows experience some degree of subclinical and clinical inflammation. It is important to keep inflammation under control to prevent excess energy being partitioned to reduce inflammation and allow energy to be partitioned to lactation. Omega-3 and Omega-6 produce anti-inflammatory factors and pro-inflammatory factors respectively and compete for the same set of enzymes (Figure 2). Therefore, one way to reduce inflammation is to keep the ratio of ration Ω-3: Ω-6 within in a suitable range.
Figure 2 Omega 3 and 6 pathways competing for the same sets of enzymes. (Adapted from Technical Handbook, Singao, 2021)
Sows Reproduction Cycle
Figure 3 Sows Reproduction Cycle
Effects of Omega 3 on Sow and Gilt Reproductive Performance
A general sow and gilt reproduction cycle can be seen in Figure 3. Generally, producers ensure that sows and gilt maintain or achieve a certain body condition score, body weight and back fat to ensure more successful breeding. However, it is almost impossible to know whether the sow and gilts organ development and their physiological development meets reproduction requirements. Many research has shown that supplementing omega 3 to sows and gilts provide the following positive effects to reproductive performance:
- Increased litter size
- Litter size is determined by ovulation rate and prenatal death.
- Follicles start developing during lactation.
- n-3 PUFAs positively affect the development and growth of follicles which induces larger ova for fertilization.
- Regulates expression of genes that forms prostaglandins and sex steroids (Wathes et al., 2007).
- Maintains pregnancy by supressing prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α).
- Corpus Luteum (CL) increases levels of progesterone after ovulation (progesterone stimulates the production of the nutrition needed for the growth of embryo – positively effects early embryonic development)
- Ω3 reduces the formation of PGF2α in the endometrium, which increases the vitality of CL and, thus, the survival of embryos. (Chartrand et al., 2003).
- Reduction of PGF2α synthesis due to the reduction in ARA (precursor of PGF2α; can be derived from LA; Figure 4.
- ALA competes for the binding sites of Δ6-desaturase responsible for LA → ARA transformation.
- EPA competes for the binding sites of prostaglandin-H-synthase responsible for ARA → prostaglandins formation.
- DHA is a direct inhibitor of prostaglandin-H-synthase.
Figure 4 Role of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in reproduction biology (Roszkoz, 2020)
Effects of Omega 3 on Sow and Gilt Late Gestation – Lactation Period:
Lactating sows that secrete more than 10 litres of milk every day, excrete at least 9.1 grams of omega 3, which require adequate supplementation. Otherwise, insufficient lactation or even excessive consumption of omega-3 in the body will affect the reproductive performance of the sow at the next parity, leading to early elimination of the sow.
- Ω3 supplementation during lactation: (Rosero et al., 2016, Smit et al., 2011; Posser et al., 2018)
- Increased the number of sows coming to heat after weaning
- Reduced the weaning-to-oestrus interval (WOI)
- Enhanced the conception and farrowing rate, increased embryo survival
- Decreased the culling rate of sows
- Improved the reproductive performance of subsequent parturition (Mateo et al., 2009)
- Follicles start to develop during the actual lactation of sows (Soede et al., 2011), and the positive effects of n-3 PUFAs on the development and growth of follicles induces larger ova to be ovulated and fertilized after insemination, which can also occur in gilts.
- Smit et al. (2013) found larger CL after supplementation with n-3 LC PUFAs in both gilts and weaned sows.
- Increases litter weight.
- Increases sow milk production.
Effects of Omega 3 on Sows – Piglets Growth and Performance
- Piglets benefit from n-3 supplementation of sows by:
- Prenatal: Placental transport during developing embryo
- Postnatal: Colostrum and sow milk with increased n-3 (EPA, DHA)
- Increase piglet weight gain (Eastwood et al., 2014; Matteo et al., 2009; Lavery et al., 2019)
- n-3 LC PUFAs can improve not only the gastrointestinal functions and integrity of piglets, decrease E. coli in cecum and increase villi height in ileum (Leonard et al, 2011)
- Decreased piglet mortality (Lavery et al., 2019; Rooke et al., 2011)
- n-3 PUFAs can modulate the immune status of piglets via a significant increase in the n-3 PUFAs content of the immune cells and a reduction in the synthesis of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids
Lipotech Omega 3 for Sows
A high dietary intake of n-6 PUFAs has been proposed as a limiting factor in the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA. (Palmquist, 2009)
Corn/soybean-based diets contain more n-6 PUFAs than wheat/barley-based diets, so adding n-3 LC PUFAs to a corn/soybean-based diet may increase the n-3/n-6 LC PUFAs ratio to a greater extent.
Many producers use linseed oil and flaxseed oil which are rich in ALA as a source of omega 3 supplementation. However, ALA on its own have very limited biological function unless converted to EPA or DHA in the body. Furthermore, the conventional corn-soybean-based diets contains high dietary intake of n-6 PUFAs which has been proposed to be a limiting factor in the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA (Palmquist, 2009). This shows that it could be more beneficial for producers to use a source of omega 3 that is rich in EPA and DHA to allow omega 3 to exert its full biological effects in the body instead of only ALA.
Marine algae oils and fish oils are both source that are rich in EPA and DHA. However, due to the high price of marine algae oils, it is rarely used, at most occasionally used in low amounts as feed supplements. Fish oil is a much more economical option compared to marine algae oils but also has its own sets of challenges during application. Fish oil as a raw material is easily oxidized and may not have consistent fatty acid profiles as it varies according to fish species. However, Manuka Biotech’s Lipotech Omega 3 uses “fish oil purification, emulsification and microencapsulation technology” (America and China Patented) which overcomes the various issues when it comes to using fish oil as a source of EPA and DHA. The emulsification enhances the digestibility and absorption of EPA and DHA. Besides that, Lipotech Omega 3 is tested for heavy metals and its fish oil source is from Peru deep sea fish thus having less contamination issue. At Manuka Biotech, we recommend a dosage of 3000-5000mg “Double A” per day per sow and 120mg “Double A” per day per piglet for optimum productivity and growth.
Contact us for more information regarding Lipotech Omega 3.
By Kayla Wong, Technical Specialist, Manuka Biotech