Early deposition of n-3 fatty acids from tuna oil in lean and adipose tissue of fattening pigs is mainly permanent.J Anim Sci 2009; 87(2):693-703JA
A total of 600 crossbred pigs, whereof 56 were randomly selected for more in-depth studies of carcass and pork quality, were employed to test different tuna oil feeding regimens. The focus was put on the efficiency to enrich lean and adipose tissue with n-3 fatty acids and the expression of adverse side-effects on performance, carcass, and pork quality. The 4 treatments were 0% tuna oil in diet (T0; control), 1% of unrefined tuna oil in diet fed from 35 to 90 kg of BW (T1), and 3% of unrefined tuna oil in diet offered during the early (35 to 60 kg of BW; T3-E) or late stage of fattening (75 to 90 kg of BW; T3-L). With this arrangement, pigs consumed equal lifetime amounts of tuna oil (approximately 1.6 kg per pig). None of the tuna oil treatments had significant effects on performance. There were no differences in carcass quality among tuna oil groups except for group T3-E where carcasses and loin chops were fatter than those of the other groups. Water-holding capacity and texture of the loin as well as firmness and melting properties of the backfat remained widely unaffected by the treatments. Tuna oil feeding resulted in a lighter, less red and less yellow backfat and was found to increase the proportion of n-3 fatty acids to total fatty acids in all treatments. This especially concerned eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, but not alpha-linolenic acid. There was also a slight increase in oleic acid, whereas n-6 fatty acids largely decreased. Feeding tuna oil during a short period at the end of fattening (T3-L) or permanently during fattening (T1) proved to be similarly efficient in increasing n-3 fatty acid content of lean and adipose tissue (to about 1.6-fold of T0). By contrast, only two-thirds of this increase was found when the same amount of tuna oil had been fed exclusively during early fattening (T3-E). The decreased efficiency in T3-E was associated with better sensory flavor, overall acceptability grading, and oxidative status. The results show that, particularly under the condition of a continuous supply, much of the n-3 fatty acids ingested in early fattening can be recovered in pork. These findings give farmers flexibility as to when and how pork can be enriched in n-3 fatty acids with fish oil.