Many people in our industry talk about MCFAs or MCT. MCFAs means medium-chain fatty acids, which are fatty acids with a chain length of 6, 8, 10 or 12 carbon atoms. This means that we talk about C6-fatty acids, C8-fatty acids, C10-fatty acids or C12-fatty acids.
These medium chain fatty acids are not bound with glycerine, they are in a free form as free fatty acids (FFA). MCT means medium chain triglyceride, this is an oil, sometimes it is called MCT-oil, for example palm kernel oil. Palm kernel oil contains high levels of C12-triglycerides. MCFAs have strong antibacterial properties.
Products with high levels of C8, C10 and C12 are of big interest in the feed industry, because of the antibacterial effect. C8 and C10 fatty acids have a strong antibacterial effect on gram negative bacteria, like E. Coli and Salmonella, and C12 fatty acids have a strong antibacterial effect on gram positive bacteria, like Streptococcus and Clostridia. These products have a positive effect on the intestinal integrity of animals and a positive effect on the technical performance. Medium-chain fatty acids are most suitable for pigs, poultry and calves.
Modes of action
MCFAs can have different modes of action. The prime target of MCFAs seems to be the bacterial cell membrane and the various essential processes that occur within and at the membrane. MCFAs can make the bacterial cell membrane porous or even solubilise the membrane in case of high concentration. MCFAs can impair the energy production of the cells caused by interference of the electron transport chain and disruption of the oxidative phosphorylation. Other processes that may contribute to inhibition of bacterial growth or death can be caused by cell lysis, inhibition of enzyme activity or impaired nutrient uptake.
Noba Vital Lipids, which has a product range named 'Vital range' with different combinations of MCFAs, recently finished a trial with different Noba Vital Products with 1680 Ross308 broilers. Birds were fed with a non-viscous or a viscous diet. The length of the trial was from day 0 till 38. Birds were fed with feed with MCFA's from day 7 till day 28. Figure 1 shows the feed conversion ratio (FCR) for those groups. This figure shows an improvement of FCR up to 3.9% in the Vital groups, in the viscous diets as in the non-viscous diets.
AF+SO = Animal fat + Soya Oil. Vital Plus/SP/Pro/Pure = different combinations of MCFAs, high level of FFA. Vitalcithin= lecithin based fat product enriched with MCFAs.
Modulating the microbial composition in the gastro intestinal tract, especially in the ileum, is of key importance since it affects, to a great extent, the intestinal function and nutrient utilisation. The ileal digesta contains 108 and 109 bacteria per gram. The bacterial population present in the ileum is highly affected by the diet composition as it affects the substrate availability and the composition of bacterial species at the distal gastro intestinal tract. Figure 2 shows the number of bacteria that are present in the ileum. Lactobacillus spp has the highest concentration (70%) in the ileum.
Lactobacillus can deconjugate bile salts, which reduces the emulsification, digestion and absorption, remaining thus more substrate at the distal part of the ileum that will be used for bacteria growth. This will result in disbiosis and loss of productivity. That means that a very high level of Lactobacillus can negatively influence the performance of the birds.
In this trial the Total Bacteria, 2 different groups of Lactobacillus and also Lactobacillus Acidophilus are measured. Vital Plus, Vital SP and Vital Pro has shown a significant lower level total bacteria and lower number of Lactobacillus Acidophilus.
The products were effective in terms of improving the feed conversion ratio, up to 3.9 %. The modes of action of MCFAs can be different, but this trial has shown that Noba Vital Products will result in lower bacteria levels and lower Lactobacillus in the ileum of broilers. It seems that there is a relation between feed efficiency and Lactobacillus load in the ileum.
[Source: Noba Vital Lipids]