Date: 16/12/2019

The success of pig farming is closely related to the efficiency of animal weight gain.

For the weight gain to occur with a healthy development of the pigs, it is essential to have a balanced pig diet including every nutrient that has a specific function in the animal’s organism.

One of the most important nutrients is fat, which may be originated from a variety of sources such as grease, tallow, vegetable oils (canola, corn, soybean) and mixtures of vegetable oils with animal fat.

The choice of a lipid source should take into account not only the price but the fat digestibility, which is influenced by its fatty acid profile.

In this blog post, we will discuss how adding lipids to feed can benefit swine nutrition as well as understanding more about poultry oil, a more economical alternative source of lipids and just as nutritious as conventional sources.

The importance of fat to pig farming

Feed supplementation with some kind of lipid source brings countless benefits to a pig’s diet.

There is an improvement in the palatability of the feed due to the organoleptic characteristics of fat. Besides, there is an increase in the formulation density and the sensation of satiety, amongst the benefits of feed supplementation.

In addition, fatty acids participate in the formation of hormones, control fluidity and selectivity of cell membranes and provide high energetic value (2.25 times more than carbohydrates).

In general, when a pig diet has a consistent lipid source, feed intake decreases while weight gain slightly increases, improving feed efficiency.

This efficiency increase is most prominent during the summer where the addition of 1% of fat increases the weight of pigs by 1%. This can be explained by the elevated energy consumption during warmer periods, increasing lean body mass gain of animals.

The fatty acid profile of an oil, or fat, makes all the difference since the digestibility and rate of absorption of unsaturated fatty acids is greater than in saturated ones.

This means that pig organisms will have better use of unsaturated fatty acids, using them more efficiently to perform the vital functions to which they are assigned to.

Unsaturated fatty acids are more easily found in plant sources, such as soybean, canola, olive and corn oils, while saturated ones are more present in animal sources. However, there are some exceptions.

Poultry oil: derived from an animal source but mostly unsaturated

With prices of corn, soybean meal and conventional lipid sources in constant change, it is necessary to search for alternative sources of oils and fat. A promising alternative is poultry oil , derived from poultry slaughterhouses by-products, such as viscera, offal and meat parts.

The raw material is taken to the cooking process where the oil is extracted followed by pressing. The oil yield varies between 1.3% and 1.6% of the weight of the poultry. This range will depend on poultry factors like the sex, age and weight at the time of the slaughter.

A higher yield of oil is obtained from older and heavier poultry. Also, when compared with male poultry, female poultry is richer in oil.

In addition to being more economically interesting, poultry oil is a sustainable alternative since it is obtained through the reuse of slaughtering by-products, avoiding waste and valuing the nutrients present in them.

Although it is derived from an animal source, poultry oil is mostly composed of unsaturated fatty acids, containing only 27.5% of saturated fatty acids.

The fatty acid type of poultry oil working in favor of animal nutrition

The main fatty acid of this oil (33%) is oleic acid, a monounsaturated acid which is also the prevailing acid in olive oil.

The fact that the oleic acid has only one double bond in its structure also makes poultry oil generally less susceptible to oxidation than polyunsaturated oils, such as soybean and canola oils. This indicates that feed containing poultry oil has greater oxidative stability and, consequently, greater shelf-life.

Moreover, poultry oil has significant amounts of the essential fatty acids linoleic (omega-6, 22%) and linolenic (omega-3, 1.9%), hormones precursors that regulate inflammatory response, platelet aggregation and blood pressure.

It is also important to emphasize that it’s more appropriate to use ingredients containing poultry oil of reliable sources which have undergone a strict quantity control.

The raw material for the extraction of the oil must be fresh, and it’s not advisable for the pig farmer to acquire an unprecedented oil and mix it with the feed. This can lead to contamination with damaging consequences for the animals.


The use of poultry oil in pig farming is extremely promising even though it is still relatively recent.

More economical and sustainable than traditional lipid sources, poultry oil has a good performance due to its fatty acid profile, rich in monounsaturates, which benefits both the development of the animals as well as the durability of feed that use it as an ingredient.