Effects of dietary hemp seed oil to sows on fatty acid profiles, nutritional and immune status of piglets

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Background: The oil from industrial hemp seeds (Cannabis sativa) is an ideal source of stearidonic acid, which is a precursor fatty acid for the long-chained n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for neonatal development, health and immunity. Hemp seed oil has been investigated for the influence on human health, but research on the impact in pig nutrition is scarce. The aim of our research was to study the effect of dietary hemp seed oil relative to soybean oil to lactating sows on the transfer of fatty acids to the off-spring and the effect on piglets' immune and nutritional status. Results: The fatty acid composition of the hemp seed and the soybean oil influenced the fatty acid composition of sow plasma, colostrum and mature milk. The highest proportion of C18:3n-3, C18:4n-3 and C20:4n-6 was obtained in mature milk fat of sows fed 5% hemp seed oil diet when compared to the other dietary fat sources (5% soybean oil or a 50:50 mix of hemp and soybean oil at 5%). The effect of dietary oil supplementation to sows was reflected in the plasma fatty acids profile of piglets. Notably the proportion of C20:5n-3 and C22:5n-3 was the highest in plasma of piglets suckling sows fed hemp seed oil-containing diets, whereas no C18:4n-3 could be detected hence indicating conversion of α-linolenic acid (ALA) and stearidonic acid (SDA) to the longer chained n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Dietary fat source also influenced number of born piglets, their weight gain during first week, plasma concentration of glucose and IgG, and haematological profile. Conclusions: The hemp seed oil resulted in direct maternal supply with n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), especially ALA and SDA, and piglets were able to convert these fatty acids obtained via the sow milk intake to C20:5n-3 and C22:5n-3. Furthermore, some interesting effects of the 5% hemp seed oil was obtained with regard to piglet initial body weight gain and glucose, which could be of interest for further research, i.e., the capability of hemp seed oil to benefit piglets during early life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalJournal of Animal Science and Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

    Research areas

  • Arachidonic acid, Immunoglobulin, Omaga-3 fatty acids, Pig, Vitamin E

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