Evaluating the quality of feed fats and oils and their effects on pig growth performance

Gerald C. Shurson, Brian J. Kerr, Andrea R. Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Feed fats and oils provide significant amounts of energy to swine diets, but there is large variation in composition, quality, feeding value, and price among sources. Common measures of lipid quality include moisture, insolubles, and unsaponifiables (MIU), titer, and free fatty acid content, but provide limited information regarding their feeding value. Lipid peroxidation is an important quality factor related to animal growth performance and health, but maximum tolerable limits in various lipids have not been established. Several indicative assays can be used to detect the presence of various peroxidation compounds, but due to the complexity and numerous compounds produced and degraded during peroxidation process, no single method can adequately determine the extent of peroxidation. Until further information is available, using a combination of peroxide value, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), and anisidine value appear to provide a reasonable assessment of the extent of peroxidation in a lipid at a reasonable cost. However, fatty acid composition of the lipid being evaluated should be considered when selecting specific assays. Predictive tests can also be used to estimate the stability or susceptibility of lipids to peroxidation and include active oxygen method, oil stability index, and oxygen bomb method. A review of 16 published studies with pigs has shown an average decrease of 11.4% in growth rate, 8.8% feed intake fed isocaloric diets containing peroxidized lipids compared to diets containing unperoxidized lipids of the same source. Furthermore, serum vitamin E content was generally reduced and serum TBARS content was increased when peroxidized lipids were fed in these studies, suggesting that feeding peroxidized lipids negatively affects metabolic oxidative status of pigs. However, it is unclear if antioxidants are useful additions to lipids to maintain optimal nutritional value, or if their addition to swine diets is beneficial in overcoming a metabolic oxidative challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalJournal of Animal Science and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 21 2015


  • Growth
  • Indicative tests
  • Lipids
  • Metabolic oxidation
  • Peroxidation
  • Pigs

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