How To Control The Dangerous Effects Of Oxidation In Animal Feed
Good nutrition is critical to the health of monogastric and ruminant animals. In order to protect livestock and limit economic losses, farmers and feed producers need to control all aspects that can have an effect on the nutritional value of feed.
Oxidation, a chain reaction that occurs in the presence of oxygen, is an important biological process, essential for life. Ironically, it is also inherently dangerous.
Oxidation can have a detrimental effect on important and relatively expensive animal feed components, such as fats and oils, and lipid materials such as fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoid pigments.
Oxidation of these components can lead to overall reduction in feed quality, affecting its:
- nutritive value;
- colour; and
Several studies have shown that feeding oxidised fats can:
- reduce feed efficiency;
- decrease energy digestibility;
- increase oxidative stress and mortality; and
- damage the immune function.
In a recent meta-analysis (Hung et al., 2017), 29 publications were analysed and the relative impact of feeding oxidised fat was calculated as a percentage of ADG (Average Daily Gain), ADFI (Average Daily Feed Intake), and FCR (Feed Conversion Rate) relative to responses from feeding isocaloric diets containing unoxidised fat. Overall, feeding oxidised fat in broiler and swine (monogastric animals) diets, resulted in a:
- 5 % reduction in ADG;
- 3 % reduction in ADFI; and
- 2 % reduction of FCR.
The Role of Antioxidants in Oxidation Control
The inclusion of specific antioxidant compounds in animal feeds can prevent, or slow down, oxidation of fats. This will preserve premix and feed quality and will improve shelf life.
Antioxidants are excellent examples of feed components that play a critical role in animal health maintenance and disease prevention. The role of antioxidants in oxidation control should not be overlooked or forgotten in modern production farming.