Effect of ω-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation to Gestating and Lactating Mares: On Milk IgG, Mare and Foal Blood Concentrations of IgG, Insulin and Glucose, Placental Efficiency, and Fatty Acid Composition of Milk and Serum From Mares and Foals

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Limited research has been conducted to evaluate effects of fatty acid (FA) supplementation on mare and foal FA profiles and foal immunity. Dietary polyunsaturated FAs, particularly ω-3 FAs, increase fluidity of intestinal cell membranes. Fluidity of mammary tissues may also be altered to allow more incorporation of immunoglobulin G (IgG) into milk. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine effects of incorporating dietary ω-3 FAs on mares, her milk, and her subsequent foal. Pregnant mares were assigned to one of three diets beginning 28 days before expected foaling date until 84 days after foaling. Diet 1 was a commercial feed (CON); diet 2 was diet 1 plus a fish oil blend (FO); and diet 3 was diet 1 plus a blend of fish and soybean oil (FSO). Mare serum FA concentrations were not affected by treatment (P > .05) with the exception of 20:5, which had a treatment × time interaction (P < .05). Mare milk FA concentrations were not affected by treatment (P > .05) with the exception of 16:1 and 20:5. Foal serum FA concentration was not affected by treatment with the exception of 18:2, which had a treatment × time interaction, and 20:5 (P < .0001), which was greatest in FO foals and least in CON foals. Dietary supplementation of ω-3 FAs did increase 20:5 in mare serum, milk, as well as serum of their subsequent foals. No differences were found for mare plasma IgG (P = .1318), serum insulin (P = .3886), plasma glucose (P = .2407), or milk IgG (P = .1262) concentrations for treatment. Foal plasma IgG (P = .2767), serum insulin (P = .4843), or plasma glucose (P = .1204) were not affected by treatment. Omega-3 FA in mare serum, milk, and foal serum were able to be manipulated by diet; however, IgG concentration was unchanged.

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