The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) extracted from algae may be a low-cost and non-pathogenic and nontoxigenic source with stable nutritional levels. Omega-3 PUFA can be incorporated into oocytes, potentially benefiting their development, and also affect metabolism and the reproductive function. However, Omega-3 effects on foetal survival may be inconsistent and the efficiency of algae as a source of PUFA is unknown. The present study evaluated serum levels of metabolic markers and reproductive performance of sows supplemented with the heterotrophic microalgae Schizochytium sp. A total of 596 sows were supplemented from the 85th day of gestation, during lactation and until the weaning to oestrous interval. Microalgae were supplemented at five levels: 0 (control); 3.5; 7.0; 14.0; and 28.0 g/d. Blood samples were collected at the 85th day of gestation, at 10d of lactation and at the last day prior to weaning. Cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin-like growth factor type-1 (IGF-1) and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) levels were evaluated in serum.
During the cycle at which supplementation was applied, total litter size was 14.4 ± 3.5, and born alive litter size was 13.4 ± 3.4. Furthermore, no effects of dietary treatments were observed on stillborn piglets at concurrent cycle. Piglet birth weight was greater for sows supplied with 28 g/d microalgae than those with lower levels. Differently, the weaning to oestrous interval was longer for fed 7.0 g/d compared with the control. Decreased levels of serum triglycerides were detected during gestation in sows supplemented with 14.0 and 28.0 g/d. Serum levels of cholesterol, IGF-1 and NEFA did not differ among treatments. At the subsequent cycle, no differences were observed for total litter size and stillborn rates.
In conclusion, supplementing sow diets with heterotrophic microalgae Schizochytium sp. had no influence on stillborn rates, on the weaning to estrous interval and on total litter size. For sows fed the greatest tested concentration (28.0 g/d), serum levels of triglycerides were reduced during gestation and piglet birth weights were increased.
Posser, C. J. M., Almeida, L. M., Moreira, F., Bianchi, I., Gasperin, B. G., and Lucia, T. (2018). Supplementation of diets with omega-3 fatty acids from microalgae: Effects on sow reproductive performance and metabolic parameters. Livestock Science, 207: 59-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2017.11.006