From Norway’s fjords into swine troughs
By Dr Paolo Manzotti, Prodotti Arca, Italy, Pig Progress
Jul 10, 2019
That algae have a lot to offer for pig production is well-known. Less well-known, however, is that benefits also include more intestinal well-being, effective immunostimulation and increased fertility. Those positive effects were found after the administration of algae to swine nutrition.
Seaweeds and brown algae are among the feedstuffs receiving increasing amounts of attention in feed and pig industries. Several scientific studies suggest, however, that the neutraceutical potential of algae is still being widely underused. Within brown algae, there are only a few species currently available for zootechnical use, meeting the requirements of the livestock sector, in terms of a wide availability, high quality standards and obviously cost-compatibility. The Ascophyllum (Ascophyllum nodosum) variety meets those requirements. This seaweed is typical for the cold waters of the Northern Atlantic and naturally proliferates almost as a ‘monoculture’ within the Norwegian fjords.
Characteristics of Ascophyllum
The salient properties of Ascophyllum meal mainly derive from the peculiar composition of the polysaccharide fraction and from the polyphenols, commonly known as phlorotannins or algal tannins. In particular, there are four different types of polysaccharides that are found in Ascophyllum flour. They are:
• Alginates (known to have strong thickening and water retention properties, but also immunostimulation effect as a function of molecular weight);
• Fucoidans (very interesting family of sulphated polysaccharides known in particular for their anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant properties);
• Laminarin (algal β-glucan); and
• Mannitol (a polysaccharide with marked osmotic properties favouring diuresis).
The polyphenols of Ascophyllum are known to be able to influence the course of intestinal fermentations, seemingly in favour of lactobacilli. Recently, several studies on humans seem to indicate that the Ascophyllum phlorotannins are also able to modulate the absorption of carbohydrates by reducing the post-prandial glycemic peak, the excess of which can lead to a real glucose intolerance. It is widely known that – in monogastrics – the vitality of embryos in animals with glucose intolerance is lower than that of animals that do not exhibit this metabolic disorder. Depending on the seasonality of the harvest, the content of polyphenols can vary from 8% to 15%, while the polysaccharide component fluctuates between 40% and 50%.
Two ‘contour’ components of Ascophyllum meal are iodine and glutamate. The last one is the most represented amino acid in the algal protein with an indicative contribution of about 10g/kg of flour. All in all, the mix of components that are naturally present in Ascophyllum flour seems to have been formulated specifically to promote the intestinal well-being of the animals, well-being from which derive an effective immunostimulation, resistance to diseases and an obviously effective absorption of dietary nutrients.
Ascophyllum and swine feeding ...
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