Vitamin C and ß-carotene in diets for pigs at weaning

The use of vitamin C and ß-carotene in weanling diets does not improve piglet performance or antioxidant activity
Thursday 20 November 2008 (9 years 8 months 2 days ago)
The objective of the current experiment was to evaluate the ability of vitamin C and/or ß-carotene to alleviate potential oxidative stress in vivo and thus, to improve performance of pigs at weaning.

Two experiments were conducted to evaluate performance of pigs supplemented with vitamin C and ß-carotene under commercial and experimental farm conditions. In Exp. 1, a total of 220 pigs weaned at 22±1.7 d and 6±1.2 kg of body weight were used; Exp. 2 included 64 animals weaned at 20±0.9 d and 6±1.1 kg of body weight. Raw canola oil (Exp. 1), and tallow (Exp. 2), was used as supplementary energy sources; storage of these ingredients (49 days) was under weaning room conditions (27-32 C and 87-100% relative humidity) to favour oxidation. Dietary treatments in both experiments were: (1) control (CON); (2) addition of vitamin C, 150 mg/kg without ß-carotene (VC); (3) addition of ß-carotene, 350 mg/kg without vitamin C (ßC), and (4) vitamin C, 150 mg/kg and ß-carotene, 350 mg/kg (VCßC). Peroxides were determined for canola oil, tallow and diets, while vitamin C and ß-carotene were measured only in the final diets. Productive performance was measured in both experiments, Exp. 1 for 24 days and 20 days for Exp 2. In Exp. 1, blood samples were collected from 2 pigs per pen to determine thiobarbituric acid reactive species (TBARS) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity.

In Exp. 1, no differences (P>0.1) were observed amongst treatments in average daily feed intake, average daily gain and feed gain ratio. The GSH-Px activity (P>0.1) and TBARS (P>0.1) in plasma were not different amongst treatments. In Exp. 2, animals fed VC and ßC diets showed lower ADFI, while slightly higher ADG was observed for the animals fed ß-carotene during the second half of the experiment, thus also resulted in a slight numerical difference in favour of ß-carotene and vitamin C dietary additions in G:F.

It is concluded that from the present research that the inclusion of vitamin C and/or ß-carotene to weanling diets in piglets does not improve animal performance or antioxidant activity.

DM Fernández-Dueñas, G Mariscal, E Ramßrez and JA Cuarón (2008) Animal Feed Science and Technology, 146 (3-4):313-32.

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