Omega-6 Fatty Acids: A Sustainable Alternative to Improve Beef Production Efficiency Academic Article uri icon


  • Global beef production must increase in the next decades to meet the demands of a growing population, while promoting sustainable use of limited natural resources. Supplementing beef cattle with omega-6 fatty acids (FAs) is a nutritional approach shown to enhance production efficiency, with research conducted across different environments and sectors of the beef industry. Omega-6 FA from natural feed ingredients such as soybean oil are highly susceptible to ruminal biohydrogenation. Hence, our and other research groups have used soybean oil in the form of Ca soaps (CSSO) to lessen ruminal biohydrogenation, and maximize delivery of omega-6 FA to the duodenum for absorption. In cow-calf systems, omega-6 FA supplementation to beef cows improved pregnancy success by promoting the establishment of early pregnancy. Cows receiving omega-6 FA during late gestation gave birth to calves that were healthier and more efficient in the feedlot, suggesting the potential role of omega-6 FA on developmental programming. Supplementing omega-6 FA to young cattle also elicited programming effects toward improved adipogenesis and carcass quality, and improved calf immunocompetence upon a stress stimulus. Cattle supplemented with omega-6 FA during growing or finishing periods also experienced improved performance and carcass quality. All these research results were generated using cattle of different genetic composition (Bos taurus and B. indicus influenced), and in different environments (tropical, subtropical, and temperate region). Hence, supplementing omega-6 FA via CSSO is a sustainable approach to enhance the production efficiency of beef industries across different areas of the world.

author list (cited authors)

  • Cappellozza, B. I., Cooke, R. F., & Harvey, K. M.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM