The Importance of Nutrition Begins Before Birth – High-Shear Dry Extruded Flax

We focus a lot on improving the feeding of animals through the various stages of production.  It’s not hard to see why – the costs of feeding animals that produce meat, milk, and eggs are 70% or more of the total costs of production, while the nutrients and energy delivered by the feed affect the productivity of the animals.

But, what about before birth?  How important is delivering nutrients at this stage – intuitively, we all know that this is important.  Chicks (or pre-chicks) in an egg, or embryos in a cow or pig, must be nourished to develop.  In an egg, the yolk of the egg provides nutrients to developing birds.  It’s one of those important things we can’t see or easily measure.

It’s interesting, then, that a review of published data from the last 88 years has indicated that the quantity of the egg yolk, the very thing supplying nutrients to newborn chicks, has been declining (see original article here).  This indicates that it may be time to think more about feeding strategies for broiler breeders – the egg suppliers.

We’ve discussed a few times on the blog the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular from flax seeds (also known as linseed; see here and here).  High-shear dry extrusion and mechanical oil pressing of flax seeds can be performed to create high-quality meals and oil for broiler breeders and other animals as well.

Indeed, the chicks from broiler breeders receiving diets with high-shear dry extruded flax seed products exhibited greater breast meat yield, and pullets fed the same product had stronger skeletons when entering the egg laying phase.  This indicates strongly that the nutrients in egg yolks are limiting the performance of birds following birth.

All of this points to biological gains still to be realized in the poultry world.  We need to pay attention to nutrition in the broiler breeder phase as well as later.  Still much to be discovered!

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