The formulation of more concentrated feed is a prerequisite in current diet formulation. Fat provides more energy and creates ‘free space’ in the formula to include more proteins indispensable for muscular growth. This strategy becomes even more efficient through innovative products, like Volamel Compass, supporting the ‘fat housekeeping process’ in a more holistic way.
The innovation is in the MFGM (Figure 1), representing a unique and valuable lipid-containing component of cow’s milk for young animal feed. The functionality of this complex membranous structure is versatile and clearly different from the classic cellular membrane. By supplementing Volamel Compass, fat digestion/absorption is still supported, but the focus shifts towards fat metabolism. The ultimate goal is lean (and healthy) growth.
MFGM-supplementation, early in mamalian life, induces metabolic modifications with beneficial consequences on fat physiology later in life (defined as ‘metabolic programming‘). Once fat has been absorbed and assimilated into chylo- or portomicrons, the neonate can evacuate this fat towards different pathways: (1) ‘inert’ fat storage, (2) ‘dynamic’ fat ‘consumption’ for maintenance or protein assimilation. In every animal, both pathways are present in a certain equilibrium (Figure 2). The Fat Navigator shifts the balance between both main pathways towards the ‘dynamic’ consumption of fat, favouring muscular growth.
Figure 2 – Volamel Compass converts dietary fat into dynamic energy.
Stress related to weaning compromises the intestinal functional capacity for digestion, absorption, and metabolism of dairy lipids. While the digestibility of sow’s milk fat is over 90%, the digestibility of fat from solid feed in newly weaned piglets decreases between 65% and 80%.
At Innsolpig, 256 piglets were randomly assigned to one of both treatment groups (8 pens with 16 piglets). Weaning was at 3 weeks of age. Piglets were fed a weaner mash diet (2 weeks) followed by a starter mash diet (5 weeks). The first group was fed the control diet (CD) while the second group was supplemented with 500 ppm Volamel Compass ‘on top’ (CD + VC). The diets were barley-wheat-soy-based, containing soybean oil and/or poultry fat. The supplemented piglets showed a significantly higher body weight (p<0,05) and a significant reduction in feed conversion rate (FCR; Figure 3), turning into a return on investment (ROI) of 6. The uniformity of the treatment group was higher (94% versus 90%).
Figure 3 – Effect of Volamel Compass on piglet growth performance at 10 weeks of age; significant differences (P<0,05) indicated by different letters.
From this trial, it can be concluded that the fat navigator clearly supports fat metabolism in this stressful period.
Different trials were set up with broilers to validate this concept for avians. At TRANSfarm (KULeuven), 270 broilers (male Ross 308) were randomly assigned to 2 diets: (1) control (CD) and (2) energy-restricted diet (50 kcal ME in starter, 90 kcal ME in grower and finisher) with 500 ppm Volamel Compass.
The diet was wheat-soy-based mash containing soybean oil and lard. Supplemented broilers showed an increase (p<0,05; Figure 4) in slaughter weight, keeping the FCR at a comparable level and increasing the EPEF (p<0,1).
Figure 4 – Broiler growth performance (body weight at 38 DOA; BW38, weight-adjusted FCR with 2500 g as reference BW; WAFCR2500) and European Production Efficiency Factor (EPEF). Significant differences (P<0,05) indicated by different letters.
The ROI ends up at 8. Broilers’ carcasses showed a smaller abdominal fat pad and a reduced degree of hepatic lipidosis. Flock uniformity was increased by 5-10%.
Applicability of the ‘programming’ hypothesis within broilers was assessed by limiting the supplementation to the first 10 days (i.e., starter phase; 500 ppm ‘on top’; ILVO, UGent) while looking into the longer-term effects at slaughter age (43 days of age). Besides a better growth performance (Table 1), the dressing percentage or breast meat percentage also increased. Birds showed a significant increase in breast meat-to-abdominal fat pad ratio, implicating not only a beneficial impact on growth performance but also on the balance between fat accumulation and muscular growth, which is in favour of the protein accretion.
In conclusion, we can state that navigating the dietary fat more towards ‘dynamic energy’ makes sense and results in clear economic benefits. The fat navigator not only results in a better performance but also delivers better broilers/pigs from a meat quality perspective.