Sheep fat contains relatively high levels of saturated fatty acids while poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are toxic to cellulolytic bacteria and are also saturated in the rumen. Stabilization of residual oil in sunflower oilcake by conversion into calcium salts would be advantageous. Alpha lipoic acid acts as an anti-oxidant to ameliorate the effects of oxidative stress caused by high dietary levels of PUFA. Residual oil (14%) in mechanically extracted (expeller) sunflower oilcake (SFOC) was saponified in situ and compared in a complete feedlot diet (100 g crude protein and 31 g extractable fat/kg feed) with commercially extracted oilcake containing 2.4% residual oil (control diet with 29 g fat and 123 g crude protein kg feed) fed to four groups of 10 SA Mutton Merino weaner lambs (ca. 23 kg) for nine weeks. Both diets were fed either with, or without a weekly oral dosing of 500 mg α-lipoic acid. Fatty acid composition was determined on back fat samples while thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) were determined on samples of m. longissimus dorsi stored for zero and six months and displayed for six days. The back fat of the lambs on the saponified expeller SFOC diets contained significantly higher levels of saturated fatty acids and lower levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids. PUFA were unaffected. High TBARS levels (>1.0) were found after six months storage. Non significant increases in TBARS were observed in the groups that received lipoic acid.
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