Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Effect of dietary ALA on growth rate, feed conversion ratio, mortality rate and breast meat omega-3 LCPUFA content in broiler chickens

John F. Carragher A , Beverly S. Mühlhäusler A , Mark S. Geier B C , James D. House D , Robert J. Hughes B C and Robert A. Gibson A E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A FOODplus Research Centre, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, Urrbrae, SA 5064, Australia.

B South Australian Research and Development Institute, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

C School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, SA 5371, Australia.

D Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

E Corresponding author. Email: robert.gibson@adelaide.edu.au

Animal Production Science 56(5) 815-823 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN14743
Submitted: 6 August 2014  Accepted: 27 October 2014   Published: 3 August 2015

Abstract

We have previously demonstrated that feeding chickens a diet containing high levels of the n-3 PUFA α-linolenic acid (ALA) significantly increases the content of the principal omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, in their meat and eggs. However, the effect of the diet on production characteristics of the birds has not been assessed. This study aimed to determine the effect of feeding male and female Cobb 500 broilers (n = 3840) a high ALA diet (containing 2.5% flaxseed oil) compared with a standard commercial Control diet (containing 2.5% tallow) on growth, feed conversion ratio and mortality until 6 weeks of age. As expected the dietary flaxseed oil significantly increased breast meat levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (~4-fold), with most eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid being deposited in the phospholipid fraction. Both male and female birds fed the high ALA diet were significantly heavier at 6 weeks of age (77 g heavier in females, 87 g heavier in males). They also had a significantly (10%) lower feed conversion ratio, and a mortality rate that was not different from the Control diet across the 6-week feeding period. These findings indicate that a high ALA diet has the potential to enrich chicken breast meat with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid without loss of growth rate or feed efficiency, or increase in fat content of breast meat.

Additional keywords: chicken, DHA, EPA, growth, nutrition, omega-3 fats.


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