Supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and effects on reproductive performance of sows
Duration: 2016 - ongoing
Research partners: University of Leeds, Harper Adams University
Sponsors: AHDB Pork
Aims and objectives: To address seasonal infertility and increase piglet viability.
The trial: The project spanned two full production cycles of 400 sows, across two university herds in which treatment sows were supplemented with a commercially-available source of omega-3.
All sows were monitored throughout the period of supplementation (both treatment and control) and during the following gestation and lactation, to determine whether there was any carry-over effect of the supplementation.
Expected benefits: The goal of this study is to improve numbers born alive and increase piglet survivability by 2%.
- Data from both sites was compiled, standardised and then analysed by a contract statistician.
- Omega-3 PUFA supplementation appears to be causing the sows to be fatter, both in terms of condition score and back fat measurements, throughout the supplemented cycle and beyond into the 'carry over' one.
- Data from the first (supplemented) production cycle suggests that there is a statistically significant, increased risk of mortality when feeding omega-3 PUFAs. Ie a sow supplemented with omega-3 PUFAs would have a higher pre-weaning mortality than one fed the control diet. This effect was not associated with the treatment sows being fatter, but rather with some other element of the omega-3 treatment.
- The cost of adding the omega-3 supplement to the diet was C.£21/T.
Next steps: The updated analysis is currently being reviewed to identify the relationship between increased mortality and sow condition. Results will be discussed with feed companies in relation to impact of supplementing omega-3 in diets.