Omega 3 Chicken Meat
Effect of Flax Seed Enriched Diet on Omega-3 Content of Chicken Meat

The purpose of this Example is to demonstrate the increase in Omega-3 content in chicken meat when chickens are fed an Omega-3 rich diet by including a raw ground flax seed composition in the chicken feed.
Forty one-day old meat-type chickens were randomly assigned to two groups. The experimental group was fed a diet that contained
20 percent fortified flax seed composition. The other group of chickens were fed an isocaloric and isonitrogenous diet made without flax.
The compositions of the control and experimental diets are shown in the table below. Both diets contained 20% protein, 3100 kcal/kg energy, 1.0% calcium, 0.42% available phosphorus, 0.75% methionine plus cysteine and 1.30% lysine.

    Diet Formulation (Weight Percent)
    Corn              55.18    48.64
    Soybean           34.42    26.01
    Dicalcium Phosphate
                      1.45     1.41
    Limestone         1.52     1.53
    Lard              5.63     0
    Wheat Middling    0        0.47
    Fortified Flax Seed
                      0        20.00
    Methionine and cysteine
                      0.75     0.75
    Lysine            0.20     0.35
    Premix Vitamins2
                      1.00     1.00
    Salt              0.50     0.50
     1 Fortified flax seed composition contained 200 ppm of zinc as zinc
     sulfate plus 100 ppm vitamin B6.
     2 Premix vitamins: (MnO, 5 grams; Choline chloride (60%), 107 grams;
     Niacin (50%), 3.2 grams; Pantothenate (25%), 2.4 grams; Riboflavin (220
     mg/g), 1.5 grams; B12 (.66 mg/g), 2.0 grams; Vitamin A, 45 grams;
     Vitamin D, 6.5 grams; Vitamin E, 2 grams; Corn, 825.4 grams.)

The chickens from both groups were housed in battery brooders for 4 weeks under identical environmental conditions. After 4 weeks, the chickens, 4 weeks old, were weighed and then sacrificed. The control chickens averaged 600 grams in weight. The experimental chickens averaged 540 grams. This difference in weight is not significant.
Samples of thigh, breast and liver were taken from the sacrificed chickens for fatty acid analysis. The results are shown in Table 1 below. Also, the radius bone in the wing was analyzed for breaking strength. The results are shown in Table 2 below.

                                      TABLE 1
           Thigh Meat1
                          Breast Meat    Liver
    Control Fed
           .89  0    0    .98  .38  1.00 .61  .44  1.83
    Flax Seed
                .44  .36  8.95 1.33 1.07 4.16 3.85 4.97
    Fed Chickens
                          910% 350% 7%   680% 875% 271%
    Average     1365%          581%           450%
    Increase in
     1 Results are expressed as percent by weight of total fat.
     2 C18:3 3 = alpha linolenic acid.
     3 C20:5 3 = eicosopentenoic acid.
     4 C22:6 3 = docosohexenoic acid.

The results shown in Table 1 indicate that feeding a diet that contains 20 percent flax seed (4.4 percent linolenic acid) causes a substantial increase in all three types of Omega-3 fatty acids in thigh meat, breast meat and the liver. The increases averaged 800 percent. There was a 1365 percent increase in the thigh muscle, 581 percent increase in the breast muscle and a 450 percent increase in liver in total Omega-3 content compared to control samples.

                  TABLE 2
    Bone Breaking Strength
    Control        23.8 pounds
    Experimental   29.7 pounds

The results shown in Table 2 indicate a 24.7% increase in bone strength in the Experimental group.
The bone strength tests were carried out according to the procedure of T. D. Crenshaw as published in the Journal of Animal Science, volume 53, No. 3, 1981, pages 827 to 835.
The fatty acid analysis was carried out according to University of Minnesota Analytical Testing Procedures, described below.
Samples of thigh, breast and liver were taken from the sacrificed chickens for fatty acid analysis. Samples from ten birds from each group were pooled, homogenized, and then frozen until analyzed.
A 1 gram sample of tissue was homogenized with 50 ml of chloroform/methanol (2:1. v/v), filtered and washed with NaCl. The chloroform layer containing the lipid extract was removed and taken to dryness under a gentle stream of nitrogen. A 10 mg sample of total lipid was transesterified with 5% HCl methanol at 85° C. for 1-1/2 hours to form the fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). The FAME's were extracted with 30-60° C. petroleum ether and then concentrated for gas chromatographic analysis by removing the solvent under nitrogen.
A Packard 428 gas chromatograph equipped with a flame ionization detector was used to separate the FAME's. A 50 m by 0.2 mm fused silica-bonded FFAP (free fatty acid phase of derivatized carbonax nitroterephthalic acid polymer) capillary column was used to separate FAME's from 12:0 to 22:6?3. The temperature was programmed from 190 to 220° C. at 2° C./minute. The injector temperature was 250° C., and the detector temperature was 270° C. Helium was the carrier gas with a column flow of 1.4 ml/minute and a split ratio of 1:65. Peaks were identified by comparison with authentic FAME standards. Peak areas were calculated by a microprocessor.

For example, the following are suitable dosages in terms of g flax seed (g Flax) per kg body weight for chickens
    Chicken Diet

    g Flax/kg Body Weight
           Day Old  2 weeks  4 weeks
                                    8 weeks
    Ideal  100      50       20     10     4
    Widest 10 to 200
                    10 to 150
                             3 to 100
                                    1 to 50
                                           0.5 to 20
           25 to 150
                    20 to 100
                             5 to 50
                                    3 to 25
                                           1 to 10
    Most   50 to 100
                    40 to 60 10 to 30
                                    5 to 15
                                           2 to 6

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are very important to animals (and humans) because they make up the molecules in the structure and activity of the membranes of all cells throughout the body.

Poultry: Flaxseed has been introduced to chicken feed to produce ‘Omega 3’ chicken meat. Omega-3 enriched poultry meat is produced by hens that are fed a diet containing 10% - 20% milled flax. Read more below.
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June 29, 2006 - News Release

The egg may have come first for Omega-3 enriched poultry products, but now the chicken isn’t far behind.

University of Guelph Animal and Poultry Science Prof. Steven Leeson has already enriched eggs with Omega-3 fatty acids, and is now leading an effort to do the same with poultry meat.

He’s identifying various poultry feed combinations that can be fed to chickens to add heart-healthy fatty acids to the animals’ meat, while also keeping it tasty. The research is sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“We’ve shown it’s possible to feed poultry Omega-3 fatty acids and have the nutrients expressed in the meat,” said Leeson. “Now our challenge is to help farmers produce this enriched meat efficiently, while maintaining quality taste.”

He’s found the poultry became sufficiently enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids after 10 to 14 days on a flax seed diet. At this stage, the nutrients build up in the body fat and once present, are constantly reused in cycles for growth and energy.

Lesson is now balancing the amount of Omega-3 and DHA fatty acids in the enriched meat to make sure its enhanced nutritive quality doesn’t interfere with taste.

DHA is known to improve human visual and learning abilities, boost immune function and relieve symptoms of some psychological disorders and inflammatory diseases. Leeson says adding fish oil to poultry feed gives humans who consume the poultry an alternative DHA source.

He predicts a market for nutrient-enhanced poultry meat in sales of whole chickens. Unlike most meat cuts that are too lean to store enough fatty acids, whole chickens contain much of the original fat content, which is where DHA and other Omega-3 fatty acids are stored.
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