Role of linoleic acid in pet and poultry feeds
Linoleic acid can be added in pet and poultry feed formulations. It is a precursor of fatty acids called omega-6...
Animal feed must contain all the nutrients necessary to fulfil multiple functions within the body, allowing them to develop its productivity within a framework of well-being and health. When certain nutrients are lacking in the diet, the risk of diseases related to nutritional deficiencies increases. The 3 major nutrients in the diet are carbohydrates, proteins and fats or oils. There is a group within fats or oils called Essential Fatty Acids. These fats are not synthesised by the animal organism but must be incorporated into the diet from external sources. These Essential Fatty Acids, through enzymatic processes in the animal, are precursors of other fatty acids that are involved in numerous biological processes necessary to maintain animal health and productivity. Essential Fatty Acids are, chemically, long carbon chains with one or more double bonds attached to a carboxyl (-OH). The number of double bonds gives them the characteristic of being unsaturated or polyunsaturated. Linoleic acid forms part of the Essential Fatty Acids group, which fulfils multiple functions within the organism. It is necessary for certain biological processes within the physiological energy production and storage cycles of animals. It forms part of cell membranes and has specific functions in the immune system.
Linoleic acid can be added in pet and poultry feed formulations. It is a precursor of fatty acids called omega-6.
In pets, the addition can be through linoleic acid conjugate, known as CLA. Linoleic acid is indispensable for the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which are responsible for cell mediation in inflammatory processes. At the intracellular level, it supports the structural integrity of the mitochondrial membrane. Its supplementation boosts cell regeneration, improving the appearance of the skin and hair, which is noticeable in their softness and elasticity. It controls seborrhoea as it intervenes in the synthesis of the cell membrane of the epithelia.
In hens, supplementation with linoleic acid provides metabolizable energy, which reduces the percentage of the necessary amount of feed intake. By adding 1 to 2%, an increase in egg weight can be observed, as it increases the yolk weight, probably because it improves the mechanism of lipoprotein synthesis in the oviduct. It is necessary to add enzymes to the formulation for more efficient assimilation.
Linoleic acid is present in animal fats or vegetable oils. Beef, milk, and cheese tend to have the highest percentages of linoleic acid. Cereals used in the formulation of diets also contain linoleic acid but in lower concentrations. It is important to formulate diets based on the proportion of nutrients required for each productive or life stage. The percentage of nutrients, such as linoleic acid, can vary in the same type of feed, as it depends on several factors for its synthesis.
Animal feed is no longer dependent on searching for food in nature on one’s own but is formulated and provided in the form of animal feed. Every animal, dog, cat, and chicken, for example, needs almost the same nutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, but the particular physiology of each species means that they need different proportions of these nutrients. The raw materials for nutrients also vary according to the endogenous enzymes of each animal, but the possibility of supplementing with exogenous enzymes, designed for each need, broadens the choices of raw materials and by-products that can be used in formulations. Achieving a balanced diet at a lower cost of production that enhances productivity and animal welfare is the new challenge. Linoleic acid supplementation meets this challenge, both in terms of improving animal production and reducing costs in feed manufacture.