In general, newborn animals dispose of only little energy reserves (glycogen, fat). Due to their large body surface, relative to their weight, they experience high temperature losses, i.e. energy losses. Furthermore, their growth rate is very high. Energy is normally supplied by colostral milk within the first days or weeks. However, the quantity of colostral milk is either too low in many cases, e.g. due to large litter sizes (piglets) or maternal disease, or cannot be provided at all.
For this reason, any additional available energy supply which the infant animal receives within the first days must be considered as positive. Energy will also be of great importance if the animal contracts a diarrheic disease, since diarrhea leads to a low resorption of essential nutrients and a concomitantly high energy demand.
Among others, dextrose and sunflower oil are good energy carriers.
Dextrose (or glucose) provides energy which is rapidly available, because it passes into the blood directly. Animals usually normally obtain glucose either directly from food, the biodegradation of starch or their own glycogen. Glucose is of central importance to an animal’s energy metabolism. Energy is required for the reactions which take place in cells because these processes depend on chemical, osmotic, and mechanical work. Besides, the body needs energy for the synthesis of organic molecules, active transport processes across biomembranes, either into the cells or out of the cells, and for movement (muscular contraction). The red blood corpuscles and the medulla of the kidney fully depend on glucose as an energy source, while the brain does so to some extent.
The readily available energy makes dextrose an excellent product to be supplied to juvenile animals.
Sunflower oil is very energy rich and contains plenty of unsaturated fatty acids. Its high vitamin E content is remarkable. It prevents oxidative decomposition and improves the oil’s storability. Sunflower oil has a mild flavor and is therefore readily accepted as an energy carrier by most animals.