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Animal Health

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Livestock Production
Wednesday, September 17, 2003 6:34:39 PM
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Increased Weaner Pig Performance From Supplementary Lyso-Phospholipids
Rick Carter, PhD - Kemin Industries (Asia) Pte Ltd



The growth performance of pigs immediately after weaning can be improved by a number of dietary strategies.  One common strategy is to feed high energy diets to young pigs and this is generally achieved by the inclusion of added fat/oil sources.  However, the pig's ability to adequately digest this fat is limited in the weeks immediately after weaning.   The key components of fat digestion are adequate emulsification of the fat into small droplets which then need to be hydrolysed by lipases in the small intestine.  The products of this enzymatic digestion must then aggregate into small micelles which can pass through the unstirred water layer adjacent to the absorptive epithelium.  Cholecystokinin (a gastrointestinal hormone) stimulates contraction of the gall bladder during a meal and this releases bile into the small intestine which plays an important part in this process.  The most important constituents of bile are bile salts, protein, cholesterol and phosphatidylcholine.


Polar lipids such as monoglycerides and phospholipids increase emulsification power.  Phospholipids have a lipophilic part due to fatty acids esterified to the glycerol 'backbone' of the molecule and also have a hydrophilic part (the choline, ethanolamine, serine or inositol end).  This combination of lipophilic and hydrophilic properties allows phopholipids to act as biosurfactants when mixed with water and fat.  Lyso-phospholipids such as lyso-phosphatidylcholine are even more hydrophilic than the phospholipids from which they are derived due to structural differences.  For example, lyso-phosphatidylcholine has one fatty acid residue per molecule instead of two in phosphatidylcholine.  This property confers a particularly strong emulsification action on the lyso-phospholipids which makes them very useful for oil in water emulsions such as occurs in the gastro-intestinal tract where dietary fat is processed as an emulsion. 


The problem:


Fat digestion and absorption in the young pig is poor for several weeks after weaning.  This was demonstrated by Cera et al (1988) using corn-soy based diets with added fat from either corn oil, pig lard or beef tallow (Table 1).  They found a linear increase in fat digestibility over time after weaning.  Whilst corn oil was more digestible than the animal fats, its digestibility was still 9.1% less in the first 2 weeks after weaning compared with the third and fourth week after weaning (this difference was 14.3% and 13.5% for lard and tallow respectively).  This limited fat digestibility will retard growth performance in these critical weeks post-weaning and has feed formulation implications in terms of digestible or metabolisable energy values ascribed to fat sources for young pigs.  Excess fat in the faeces (steatorrheoa) makes the faeces sticky and difficult to clean from the pens which in turn can create hygiene problems.  Furthermore, excess fat in the large intestine may disturb hind-gut fermentation and lead to diarrheoa which would further inhibit pig performance.


Table 1.  Digestibility of fat in pigs after weaning at 21 days



Age of pig

Corn oil



Fat intake, g/day


Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7











1.78 b





1.86 b

Fat digestibility, %


Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7











1.36 b





0.80 b

          b, linear response (P<0.01)


The solution:


A digestibility study in 40-45kg pigs conducted at an Australian research institute (van Barneveld et al., in press) showed that 0.75kg/t of LysoforteTM Dry (a source of lyso-phospholipids) added to a barley-based diet containing 2.5% added tallow (of beef origin) increased the ileal digestibility of energy, nitrogen, lysine and the diet digestible energy (DE) value.  These responses were not observed in a diet containing only 1% added tallow.  This indicates that the action of LysoforteTM is indeed on dietary fat and in turn, this improves the capacity of the growing pig to digest protein and amino acids in the small intestine.  The mechanism is presumably via enhanced enzyme access to protein as result of Lysoforte's action on fat in the small intestine.


Table 2. Effect of LysoforteTM on the ileal digestibility of nutrients in grower pigs on a barley based diet with 2.5% tallow








Diet DE, MJ/kg









            * P<0.10; ** P<0.05


A trial was then conducted in weaner pigs in Australia (Carter and Henman, in press) to determine the growth performance response from 1kg/tonne of LysoforteTM Piglet Dry supplementation.  The diets used in this study were based on either dehulled oats or wheat and with or without 3% added tallow (of predominantly swine origin).  An enzyme formulation containing xylanase, b-glucanase, cellulase, protease and amylase (Kemzyme® S Dry at 1kg/t) was also evaluated as well as the combination of LysoforteTM and Kemzyme®.  The trial started at weaning at 21days of age (7kg pigs) and finished 3 weeks later.  The nutrient specifications of the diets containing tallow were according to industry standards (e.g. 15MJ DE/kg, 7% total fat, 22% crude protein, 0.88g available lysine/MJ DE for the wheat based diet) and the amino acid to energy ratios in the diets without tallow were the same as the diets that contained tallow.


Across the whole experiment, Kemzyme® significantly improved both growth rate and feed conversion efficiency (P<0.05).  The response in the wheat based diet was very marked, ie. a 20% faster growth rate in the absence of tallow and a 42% faster growth rate in the presence of tallow.  In support of the digestibility data shown in Table 2, this performance trial resulted in a significant tallow-LysoforteTM interaction for growth rate, ie. irrespective of the cereal base, LysoforteTM (either alone or in combination with Kemzyme®) increased growth rate when tallow was present but had no effect when tallow was not included (Table 3).


Table 3. LysoforteTM & LysoforteTM+Kemzyme® responses from weaner pigs on either a wheat or oats based diet with 3% tallow


Grain type/treatment

Growth rate response vs control

FCR response vs control

De-hulled oats ��CLysoforteTM


242 to 280, ie. + 38g/day (+16%)

242 to 300, ie. + 58g (+24%)

1.41 to 1.41 (0%)

1.41 to 1.31 (-7%)

Wheat ��C LysoforteTM


215 to 266, ie. + 51g (+24%)

215 to 274, ie. + 59g (+27%)

1.57 to 1.26 (-20%)

1.57 to 1.31 (-17%)

Average response

+ 52grams/day (+23%)

17 FCR points (-11%)


A university trial conducted in the USA (Xing et al, in press) with a corn-soy based diet with 5% tallow (of swine origin) has also demonstrated a significant growth response (P<0.05) from 1kg/t of LysoforteTM Dry in weaner pigs.  This trial also commenced at weaning at 21 days of age (6kg) and finished 5 weeks later (Table 4).


Table 4. LysoforteTM response from weaner pigs on a corn-soy diet with 5% tallow



ADG (g/day)





437 (+15%)


1.75 (-9%)


Fat digestibility measured on day 10 of the trial increased from 68.6% for the control group to 75.9% for the group receiving LysoforteTM.  In agreement with the digestibility data shown in Table 2, protein digestibility also increased under the influence of LysoforteTM compared with control, ie. from 77.7% to 83.3%.


Consistent with the positive growth responses from LysoforteTM, a trial conducted in France (Meeusen, 1995) demonstrated improved faecal structure (ie. properly formed stools compared with looser stools) when weaner pigs received LysoforteTM compared with control pigs.  Additionally, the impact of LysoforteTM on gut microflora in pigs was indicated by a trial in Italy that showed a larger reduction in faecal bacteria and coliform counts over the growth period from 8kg to 22kg when LysoforteTM was included in the pig's diet compared with control (Adams, 1994).




LysoforteTM can be included in diets with added fat sources irrespective of the cereal base to improve the growth performance of young pigs during the critical post-weaning period.  The cost of diets fed during this period is relatively high and so high nutrient utilization is required to maximize the economic return from such diets.  LysoforteTM will improve the utilization of dietary nutrients by young pigs and so enable increased performance.



Dr. Carter is the Group Technical Services Manager for Kemin Asia's AgriFoods division and is based in Sydney, Australia.

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