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Dose-response of supplementing marine algae (Schizochytrium spp.) on production performance, fatty acid profiles, and wool parameters of growing lambs

Meale, S.J., Chaves, A.V., He, M.L., McAllister, T.A. (2014). Dose-response of supplementing marine algae (Schizochytrium spp.) on production performance, fatty acid profiles, and wool parameters of growing lambs, 92(5), 2202-2213.


Microalgae are the original source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) in the marine food chain, and its inclusion in animal feeds has been considered as a means of increasing the DHA level in foods of animal origin. As such, this study aimed to investigate the effects of supplementing an algal meal, high in DHA derived from Schizochytrium spp. (DHA-G), in the diet of Canadian Arcott lambs, on growth, carcass characteristics, wool production, and fatty acid (FA) profiles of subcutaneous adipose tissues (SAT), perirenal adipose tissues (PAT), and skirt muscle (SM). Forty-four lambs were randomly assigned to dietary treatments. Diets consisted of a pelleted, barley-based finishing diet with DHA-G supplemented at 0, 1, 2, or 3% DM as a replacement for flax oil and barley grain. Feed deliveries and orts were recorded daily. Lambs were weighed weekly and slaughtered once they reached ≥45 kg live weight. Carcass characteristics, ruminal pH, and liver weights were determined at slaughter. Wool yield was determined on mid-side patches of 100 cm2 shorn at d 0 and on the day before slaughter (d 105 or 140). Dye bands were used to determine wool growth, fiber diameter, and staple length. Adipose tissues and SM samples were taken at slaughter and analyzed for FA profiles. Data were analyzed using mixed procedure in SAS with orthogonal contrasts testing for linear, quadratic, or cubic responses to increasing levels of DHA-G. Daily DMI, ADG, and G:F were similar as were wool quality and yield (P > 0.05). Carcass characteristics were generally unaffected (P > 0.05), except for body wall thickness (mm), which showed a quadratic response (P = 0.01) with increasing DHA-G. The concentration of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-6; mg/100 g fresh tissue) linearly increased (P < 0.001) with DHA-G in both adipose tissues and responded quadratically in SM (P = 0.05). Similarly, DHA (mg/100 g fresh tissue) increased linearly (P < 0.01) with DHA-G in all tissue types (P < 0.001). Supplementing DHA-G decreased (P < 0.001) the n-6:n-3 ratio in all tissues. No effects (P ≥ 0.05) on PUFA or SFA were observed across the 3 tissues, with no response (P ≥ 0.10) in the SFA:PUFA ratio in either SM or SAT; however, the SFA:PUFA ratio linearly decreased in PAT (P = 0.01) as DHA-G increased. These results indicate that DHA-G can be successfully included in the diets of growing lambs, up to 3% DM, with the potential to improve carcass characteristics and the FA profile of adipose tissue and muscle. © 2014 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.

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