Intensive animal production requires high nutritious feeds. In practical diets fats and oils may represent a large part of the energy content. However, fats and oils are lipophilic substances that need to be emulsified in order to be absorbed in the aqueous environment of the digestive tract.

In young animals like weaned piglets and broilers, this is a real challenge, because of the limited bile production. Without proper fat emulsification and absorption, the high levels of fats and oils will have limited value to the animal. Moreover, when malabsorption or other gut health problems occur, fat digestion will directly be impaired. Bacterial de-conjugation of bile salts interferes with micelle formation, which results in malabsorption of mono-glycerides and fatty acids. Deconjugated bile salts and hydroxy fatty acids exacerbate diarrhoea by stimulating water secretion and intestinal motility.

As a proper emulsification of dietary fat is essential to maintain performance in young animals, the addition of an emulsifier could be of great added value. Lecithin is such an emulsifier and consists of a complex mixture of mainly phospholipids. Phospholipids have an amphiphilic character, which mean that the molecule both has a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic part. Native lecithins are by-products from the oil refinery and usually applied in animal feed as a relatively cheap energy source.

In contrast to native lecithins, lysolecithins (or lysophospholipids) are known for their much stronger capacity of promoting an oil-in-water emulsification. Lysolecithins are obtained by hydrolysis of native lecithin by enzymes. This process makes them more hydrophilic compared to ‘normal’ lecithins.

FRA® LeciMax Dry, produced by Framelco, consists of lysolecithins with relatively high levels of the more specific lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) and lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LPE). LPC and LPE are both important components of the lipid bilayer of cell membranes, increasing their fluidity and permeability. This will enhance nutrient absorption and maximise fat digestion.