Dietary Modification of Yolk Lipid with Menhaden Oil

Source: P S Hargis , M E Van Elswyk, and B M Hargis

Due to the numerous proposed cardiovascular benefits associated with consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, marketing of an egg enriched by omega-3 fatty acid may benefit the egg producer. Effects on yolk composition of a standard laying hen diet enriched with 3% menhaden oil (test diet), versus an isocaloric (control) diet containing no added fat, were evaluated for 18 wk. Dietary menhaden oil did not alter egg production, egg weight, total yolk fat, or yolk cholesterol. However, yolk contents of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids were influenced by diet. Arachidonic acid decreased and eicosapentaenoic acid increased in eggs from hens fed the test diet following 1 wk of dietary treatment. Docosahexaenoic acid and linolenate increased in eggs from hens fed the test diet at 2 and 3 wk of the trial, respectively. These alterations in yolk composition resulted in a decrease in the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids from 18 for eggs from hens fed the control diet to 3 for eggs from hens fed the test diet. At Weeks 14 and 18, hens (n = 10 per diet) were killed and necropsied. No changes in gross scoring of hepatic lipidosis was observed. Histologically, significantly greater scores for hepatocellular lipid infiltration were recorded for liver sections from hens fed menhaden oil than for control hens. Increased microscopic hepatic lipid infiltration observed with dietary omega-3 administration may have significance for flocks predisposed to fatty liver syndrome and may also provide a unique system in which to study the effects of dietary omega-3 fatty acids on liver lipid metabolism.