Many swine feed additives provide only one benefit to the pig. That’s not the case with activated medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs play different roles in swine nutrition depending on the form and amount in which they are fed.

MCFAs can deliver benefits during digestion to support swine gut health. Or, they can be tools to support biosecurity on your operation. You can impact how and where MCFAs work based on how you formulate swine diets.

PMI focuses on activated MCFAs to support swine gut helath and biosecurity. Activated MCFAs are free fatty acids so they can work quickly and don’t need the pig to use dietary energy to break the bonds. PMI has developed a strategic blend of pure MCFAs so they can be fed at lower inclusion rates compared to MCFAs in other forms.

MCFAs contained in triglycerides and salts

MCFAs are defined as fatty acids with 6, 8, 10 or 12 carbon atoms.

Triglycerides are a common source of MCFAs; they are made of three fatty acids connected by a glycerol backbone. During digestion, the pancreas secretes lipase, which breaks this bond and liberates the fatty acids to interact with bacteria or pathogens in the gut. However, if you want the fatty acids to be active in the gut, it’s necessary to feed them at high inclusion rates. That is the only way to ensure enough fatty acids can be released by lipase to support swine gut health.

Another common form is a salt made of fatty acids connected to a calcium or sodium molecule. In this form, stomach acid frees the fatty acids, allowing them to interact with bacteria sooner than triglycerides would. The salt form allows for feeding at lower rates than triglycerides, but it also comes with challenges.

MCFAs in the salt form can taste soapy, which could negatively impact feed intake. When the fatty acids are separated from a calcium molecule in the stomach, the calcium can support proper pH.

How activated MCFAs support swine gut health

Feeding activated MCFAs supports optimal pig performance. When fatty acids are in their free form, the pig does not need to expend any energy to activate the fatty acids. They are readily available to support immune function and swine gut health.

Activated fatty acids can also function as a biosecurity tool. In their free form, fatty acids can interact with bacteria in feed at the mill, in the truck or in the feeder. They address risk factors before pigs even consume the feed.

Feeding only the activated fatty acids allows you to use them at the lowest possible inclusion rate. This is different than feeding coconut oil or palm oil, which are a blend of fatty acid forms and tend to be higher in triglycerides rather than free, active fatty acids.

Finally, fatty acids with different numbers of carbon interact differently with pathogens in feed or the animal’s gut. Feeding a strategic blend of lengths of MCFAs (with 6, 8, 10 or 12 carbon atoms) provides a broad spectrum of support.

PMI swine feed additives contain pure activated MCFAs in a strategic combination of lengths to deliver the greatest potential benefits to support swine gut health and biosecurity.  Ready to learn more? Connect with our swine expert.