Improve animal health status with monoglycerides 

By Dr. Ir. Mrs. Carolien Makkink

Monoglycerides of fatty acids can be used in feeds or drinking water to improve the health status of animals. Framelco in Raamsdonksveer, The Netherlands, produces monoglycerides under the trade name Fra C. Monoglycerides are more active against harmful bacteria in the digestive tract than (salts of) organic acids. Application of monoglycerides through feed or water improves the health status of animals and contributes to the mitigation of antibiotic use in animal husbandry. Mode of action Triglycerides are ‘normal’ fats, with three fatty acids bound to a molecule of glycerol. The monoglycerides in the FRA C product line consist of one fatty acid molecule coupled to the 1-position of a glycerol molecule through a covalent bond. The products are polar molecules and water soluble, which allows them to act effectively in watery environments.

Monoglycerides are very stable and non-corrosive and are therefore easy to apply in animal feeds. Because a monoglyceride contains only one fatty acid ‘tail’, the molecule is stretched and not branched, like di- or triglycerides. Monoglycerides do not dissociate, even at high pH values. This characteristic ensures a strong action against harmful bacteria: the bacterium takes up glycerol as an energy source, and the polar monoglyceride is easily drawn into the bacterial cell (like a Trojan horse). After entering the bacterial cell, the monoglyceride dissociates, lowering the internal pH. The bacterium then needs to remove the excess H+ and this costs a lot of energy, leading to the destruction of the bacterial cell. Various products The type of fatty acid coupled to the glycerol molecule determines the action of the monoglyceride: Framelco offers a broad range of Fra C products (Table 1). The monoglycerides of propionic acid, butyric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid and lauric acid are effective against bacteria, moulds and yeasts. Monopropionin (Fra C3) and monobutyrin (Fra C4) are polar molecules that enter the bacterial cell easily. Fra C3 also protects against moulds and may be used as an alternative for fungicides during storage. Because monoglycerides do not evaporate – unlike the volatile fatty acids propionic acid and butyric acid – they remain active during the storage of cereal grains. Monolaurin (Fra C12) is produced from coconut oil and is effective against bacteria, protozoa and viruses. Fra C12 easily enters the bloodstream because of its polar nature.

With clever synergistic combinations of monoglycerides and other additives (e.g. essential oils, phytogenic components and lactic acid), farm-specific health problems can be tackled effectively. Encapsulated essential oils (thymol, carvacrol, cinnamaldehyde, eugenol and capsacaine) possess antibacterial, antioxidant, coccidiostatic, and even antiviral activity. These plant extracts provide a beneficial shift in the composition of the micro flora in the digestive tract. Experimental results In vitro studies reveal that Fra BLP (a combination of monobutyrin, lactic acid, essential oils and phytogenic components) is more effective in inhibiting Clostridium perfringens than butyric acid. Fra AC4 and AC34 were tested on a Dutch broiler farm that experienced problems with Salmonella java for years. Using Fra products resulted in all birds being free of Salmonella on day 42. Broiler farms in Limburg and Friesland were suffering from problems with Salmonella mbanka and Salmonella infantis, respectively. Addition of Fra AC34 to the drinking water resulted in all birds being free of Salmonella at delivery. Fra BLP was applied on Dutch laying hen farms suffering from necrotic enteritis. A dosage of 0.5 kg per 1000 litres drinking water solved the problem in 49 out of 50 farms studied. Feed conversion ratio and egg shell quality also improved with the use of Fra BLP. Properties The Fra C products are generally recognized as safe (GRAS status), are free of GMO, non-corrosive, non-smelling and non-dangerous. Most products are available in liquid and dry form and are applicable in feed and drinking water.