The effects of long (C20/22) and short (C18) chain omega-3 fatty acids on keel bone fractures, bone biomechanics, behavior, and egg production in free-range laying hens

M J Toscano, F Booth, L J Wilkins, N C Avery, S B Brown, G Richards, J F Tarlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Keel fractures in the laying hen are the most critical animal welfare issue facing the egg production industry, particularly with the increased use of extensive systems in response to the 2012 EU directive banning conventional battery cages. The current study is aimed at assessing the effects of 2 omega-3 (n3) enhanced diets on bone health, production endpoints, and behavior in free-range laying hens. Data was collected from 2 experiments over 2 laying cycles, each of which compared a (n3) supplemented diet with a control diet. Experiment 1 employed a diet supplemented with a 60:40 fish oil-linseed mixture (n3:n6 to 1.35) compared with a control diet (n3:n6 to 0.11), whereas the n3 diet in Experiment 2 was supplemented with a 40:60 fish oil-linseed (n3:n6 to 0.77) compared to the control diet (n3:n6 to 0.11). The n3 enhanced diet of Experiment 1 had a higher n3:n6 ratio, and a greater proportion of n3 in the long chain (C20/22) form (0.41 LC:SC) than that of Experiment 2 (0.12 LC:SC). Although dietary treatment was successful in reducing the frequency of fractures by approximately 27% in Experiment 2, data from Experiment 1 indicated the diet actually induced a greater likelihood of fracture (odds ratio: 1.2) and had substantial production detriment. Reduced keel breakage during Experiment 2 could be related to changes in bone health as n3-supplemented birds demonstrated greater load at failure of the keel, and tibiae and humeri that were more flexible. These results support previous findings that n3-supplemented diets can reduce fracture likely by increasing bone strength, and that this can be achieved without detriment to production. However, our findings suggest diets with excessive quantities of n3, or very high levels of C20/22, may experience health and production detriments. Further research is needed to optimize the quantity and type of n3 in terms of bone health and production variables and investigate the potential associated mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-35
Number of pages13
JournalPoultry Science
Volume94
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Animal Feed
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone and Bones
  • Chickens
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone
  • Housing, Animal
  • Oviposition

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