April 23, 2020

Interpretive Summary: Different blends of medium-chain fatty acids fed to nursery pigs

Interpretive Summary: Evaluation of different blends of medium-chain fatty acids, lactic acid, and monolaurin on nursery pig growth performance

By: Anne Wallace

During the post-weaning period, infection, digestive issues, or reduced feed intake may negatively impact the growth performance of nursery pigs. Although antibiotics mitigate these issues, alternatives to antibiotics that optimize health and growth are needed.

Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) have the potential to benefit growth performance and digestive health due to their anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. In this April 2020 Translational Animal Science study, researchers fed MCFA blends to nursery pigs. Their goal was to determine how these feed additives impacted growth performance.

CaptiSURE (a commercial product containing caprylic and capric acid) was added to pig feed in different concentrations. Another MCFA blend with equal amounts of caproic, caprylic and capric acid was also tested. In another experiment, pigs were fed a control diet either without MCFA, with the aforementioned MCFA caproic-caprylic-capric acid blend, or with a MCFA blend containing caproic acid, lactic acid and monolaurin (in differing ratios).

The MCFA caproic-caprylic-capric acid blend and CaptiSURE increased feed efficiency, average daily gain (ADG) and average feed intake (ADFI). In the second experiment, ADFI increased only in pigs fed the MCFA blend with caproic, caprylic and capric acid.

The results of this study suggest that MCFAs may have the ability to enhance the growth performance of nursery pigs. The MCFA blend containing equal amounts of caproic, caprylic and capric acid and CaptiSURE both had this benefit, whereas lactic acid and monolaurin had no benefit. Overall, more studies into how MCFA blends impact the growth performance of piglets may be warranted, particularly caprylic and capric acid, which were in both CaptiSURE and the caproic-caprylic-capric MCFA blend.