With very few exceptions, chickens can (and shamelessly will) eat almost anything. The challenge for commercial farmers is less about avoiding toxic food, but finding nutrients in the right proportion for optimum health.
One ongoing debate revolves around the quantity of polysaturated fatty acids to include in your flock’s diet. In the right amounts, feed supplements that are high in omega-3 fatty acids not only contribute to the health of your birds and eggs but to consumers as well. Here are the benefits of omega-3 for chickens – and how seaweed like Ascophyllum nodosum can help.
Since the 1950s, there’s been evidence that chicks fed a fat-free diet demonstrated less growth after their first six weeks than those receiving a reasonable amount of fatty acids in their feed. As with humans, poultry benefit from a proper balance of omega-3 fatty acids, but when the right ratio is struck, the advantages are high.
As a well-known antioxidant, it’s not surprising that omega-3s help chickens reduce the harm of oxidative stress on cells, proteins and DNA. Chicken that consume a recommended amount of polysaturated fatty acids also have a lower risk of hypertension and inflammation. Plus, omega-3 rich seaweed has also been shown as an essential ingredient for poultry farming disease management thanks to its immune-boosting abilities.
Healthy laying hens and broiler birds contribute to the overall health of the humans who rely on them for food. By including omega-3 in the feed their animals consume, producers can increase the availability of antioxidants and immune-boosting compounds in great tasting food that ordinary Americans eat.
When laying hens consume omega-3 fatty acids, they pass the majority of this nutrient to their eggs. A study of Leghorn hens fed seaweed supplements showed an increase in omega-3 fatty acids, yolk color and egg white height compared to the control no-seaweed group. The result is a healthier, more-visually appealing breakfast without any negative impact on the taste.
Plus, there’s still a positive effect on the nutritional value of adult birds. A study published in Animal Feed Science and Technology shows that broiler chickens fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil (or all-natural seaweed) two weeks prior to slaughter can be labeled as “high in omega-3 fatty acids,” providing 33% or 15% of the nutrient, depending on whether it’s from the breast or thigh.
Yes, there are other foods that are rich in omega-3s, but seaweed like Ascophyllum nodosum also provides poultry with other essential sources of vitamins and minerals as well as prebiotics that cultivate gut health (which is indispensable for a healthy immune system). Though your chickens might not be picky, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feed them the best – and keep your costs low while doing it too.
Looking for a more cost-effective source of omega-3 for chickens? Our Tasco® seaweed chicken feed ingredient can provide for flock with extra nutritional value for your investment.