Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

January 2004


Published in 2004 Nebraska Swine Report, compiled by Duane Reese; University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension EC 04-219-A. Prepared by the staff in Animal Science and cooperating Departments for use in Extension, Teaching and Research programs. Cooperative Extension Division, Agricultural Research Division, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


A literature review was conducted to examine the role that dietary omega- 3 fatty acids may have in improving litter size in swine. Omega-3 fatty acids are not normally present to any great extent in practical swine diets, but they are increasingly believed to be important in human and pet health. In all but one of the studies reviewed the number of pigs born alive improved (0.2 to 0.7 pigs litter) when sows were provided diets that contained more omega-3 fatty acids. In all the studies that reported litter size at weaning, positive responses were observed (0.3 to 1.3 pigs/litter) with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. The response is highly variable and probably due to the source, level and timing of feeding the omega-3 fatty acids. It seems possible for producers to improve the profitability of pork production by supplementing sow diets with omega-3 fatty acids.