Improving the Health and Productivity of Livestock

Despite the massive amount of research on the role of polyunsaturates in human health, the potential for improving the health of livestock by dietary fatty acids has received limited attention. Formulated animal feeds usually have a very high ®6:ffl3 ratio and often contain no 22:6o3. Recent work has highlighted some potential benefits of «3 supplementation for the health and productivity of the animal. For example, supplementation of sows with fish oil during pregnancy increased both the 22:6o3 content and the weight of the piglet brain.[8] These changes were associated with a decrease in preweaning mortality, largely by a reduction in the number of piglets crushed by the sow, and possibly reflecting improved cognitive development during fetal life.[8] Supplementation of boars and cockerels with fish oil improved fertility by increasing the 22:6o3 content, number, and fertilizing ability of spermatozoa.[3] Chickens that were fed diets rich in either o3 or o6 fatty acids displayed major reductions in both plasma triacylglycerol and in the weight of the abdominal fat pad compared to birds on a tallow-rich diet.[9]

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