Researchers at Virginia Tech have found that the inclusion of an antioxidant in swine diets can counter-balance several of the negative effects of feeding fatty acids by alleviating oxidative stress.
"Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of free radicals produced and the animal's ability to keep them under control," said Dr. Junmei Zhao, executive manager of monogastric nutrition solutions at Novus. "The free radicals cause a chain reaction that causes tissue and cell damage."
The Virginia Tech research used Novus' AGRADO Plus antioxidant feed ingredient.
In the study, Dr. Allan Harper, professor emeritus of Animal Science at Virginia Tech, and his research team supplemented different types of antioxidants to pigs fed diets high in oxidants. The team designed a dietary model that imposed a relatively high level of oxidative stress on the pigs, and then attempted to remediate the performance, carcass quality and physiological aspects of the oxidative stress with either vitamin E or a commercial antioxidant. This oxidation model was used to mimic Yellow Fat Disease, a disease resulting from a diet high in unsaturated fatty acids and deficient in Vitamin E.
Overall, Yellow Fat Disease symptoms occurred in pigs fed high oxidant diets, without antioxidant supplementation. The addition of AGRADO Plus alone, or the combination of AGRADO Plus with vitamin E, reduced the negative effects of oxidation in the feed.
This prevented Yellow Fat Disease symptoms and proved to be effective in improving animal growth performance and carcass meat quality, when compared to Vitamin E alone.
The results of the university's research are summarized in two studies published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Animal Science. The first study examines the effects of antioxidant supplementation on pig growth, liver function and oxidative status. The second study examines the impact on carcass characteristics, meat quality and fatty acid profile.
"Supplementing pig diets with a high quality antioxidant is important, not only to prevent feedstuff oxidation, but also for the positive systemic effects antioxidants provide," Zhao said.