Effect of L-carnitine supplementation of sows on L-carnitine status, body composition and concentrations of lipids in liver and plasma of their piglets at birth and during the suckling period
Birkenfeld, C.; Doberenz, J.; Kluge, H.; Eder, K.
Animal Feed Science and Technology 129(1/2): 23-38
Previous studies have shown that supplementation of sow diets with L-carnitine increases body weights of their piglets at birth. It has not yet been investigated whether piglets of sows supplemented with L-carnitine differ in their body composition or metabolic parameters from those of control sows at birth and during the suckling period. This study was performed to investigate whether supplementation of sows with L-carnitine during pregnancy and lactation influences body composition and lipid metabolism of their piglets. An experiment was conducted with 40 primiparous sows which were assigned to two groups of 20 sows each and had free access to a nutritionally adequate diet. One group was supplemented with 125 mg L-carnitine/day during pregnancy and 250 mg L-carnitine/day during lactation; the other group (control group) did not receive L-carnitine. L-Carnitine treated sows had a higher feed intake during pregnancy (P<0.05) and higher plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) on day 80 of pregnancy than control sows (P<0.05). The number of piglets born was not different between the two groups of sows, but L-carnitine treated sows had fewer stillborn piglets (P<0.05). Piglets of L-carnitine treated sows had higher concentrations of L-carnitine in plasma and carcass at birth and on days 10 and 20 of age than control piglets (P<0.05). Chemical composition (concentrations of total lipids, protein and ash) of the carcass and plasma concentrations of IGF-1 and insulin, which are important modulators of growth, did not show any difference between the two groups of piglets at birth and on days 10 and 20. Concentrations of lipids (triacylglycerols, cholesterol) in liver and plasma and concentration free fatty acids in plasma were also broadly similar between the two groups of piglets at birth and on days 10 and 20. In conclusion, this study shows that supplementation of sows with L-carnitine improves the L-carnitine status of their piglets at birth and during the suckling period but does not influence their body composition or lipid metabolism.