Influence of fish oil supplementation on growth and immune system characteristics of cattle
A study was conducted to determine the effects of supplemental fish oil on growth performance and immune system characteristics of beef calves. The grazing phase (78 d) used 48 yearling crossbred steers (231 ± 22 kg initial BW) grazing 0.45-ha mixed-grass pastures (four per treatment) supplemented with 1.82 kg/d (as-fed basis) of the diets. Diets consisted of 1) corn-based supplement; 2) corn-based supplement with 1.5% (as-fed basis) fish oil; 3) wheat midd-based supplement; and 4) wheat midd-based supplement with 1.5% fish oil. On d 78, all calves were bled by jugular venipuncture, and blastogenic response of peripheral blood lymphocytes to phytohemagglutinin, concanavalin A, and pokeweed mitogen was measured. Fish oil supplementation negatively affected ADG with the corn-based supplement, but it had no effect when added to the wheat midd-based supplement (base-supplement × fish oil interaction; P < 0.03). Isolated lymphocytes from calves fed the corn-based supplement with fish oil had a greater response to stimulation with concanavalin A than did lymphocytes from calves fed the corn-based supplement alone, but there was no effect of fish oil addition to the wheat midd-based supplement (base supplement × fish oil interaction; P < 0.01). During the growing phase, the 48 steers (352 ± 32 kg initial BW) from the grazing phase were moved to drylot pens and were stratified by BW and previous dietary treatment (three calves per pen; eight pens per dietary treatment) for a 56-d growing trial. Dietary treatments consisted of 1) control, and 2) the control diet with 3% (as-fed basis) fish oil. Calves supplemented with fish oil had decreased ADG, ADFI, and G:F (P ≤ 0.02) compared with controls. Fish oil supplementation during the grazing phase modulated the immune system; however, the decreased growth performance associated with fish oil in both trials may limit its practical use as an immune stimulant.
Journal of Animal Science, 2005, Vol. 83, No. 5, 1097–1101.