MANHATTAN, Kan. – When Kansas State University swine nutritionists design diets for pigs, they typically think of medium-chain fatty acids as “good guys.”

During the past five years Kansas State University researchers consistently found those fatty acids lead to better health and well-being of pigs. The acids have a positive impact on feed efficiency and growth.

But more isn’t necessarily better. Our initial studies used rather extensive concentrations of medium-chain fatty acids in swine feed to demonstrate their effectiveness. As we progressed in the research we found lesser levels of medium-chain fatty acids generated similar benefits.

That’s good news for swine producers because when nutritionists include smaller amounts of medium-chain fatty acids in feed, those diets cost less. Those findings will allow more options for feed ingredients that can be used to enhance the overall feed biosecurity in swine operations.

As the weather cools one virus of particular concern to swine producers is porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. It causes severe diarrhea in pigs and leads to nearly 100 percent mortality in pre-weaned pigs.

More and more research is showing the benefits of medium-chain fatty acids in reducing or mitigating the risk of porcine epidemic diarrhea in feed. With that research there will likely be new products coming to the market available for producers to consider as part of their biosecurity program.

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Jason Woodworth is a swine nutritionist with Kansas State University.