Evaluation of Tom Fertility as Affected by Dietary Fatty Acid Composition

Source: Judd Niles Culver
The objective of two studies was to manipulate the essential fatty acid content of turkey semen by enhancing the dietary levels of either n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) or n-6 PUFA and determine the effect on fertility. In 1999 (Trial 1), and again in 2000 (Trial 2), Large White tom turkeys, 37 weeks of age, were fed one of three diets substituted with chicken fat, soybean oil, or menhaden fish oil. Chicken fat provided the industry’s standard ratio of n-6 to n-3, soybean oil provided a greater ratio of n-6 to n-3, and fish oil provided a lower ratio of n-6 to n-3. Contemporary hens were inseminated weekly with semen collected from each group of toms. The effects of dietary lipids on tom body weights, fertility, motility, perivitelline layer sperm penetration percent, and live vs. dead sperm were analyzed. Whereas body weight increased linearly from 31 to 56 weeks of age (WOA), there was no effect of dietary treatment. As measured by the Accudenz® procedure, there were differences in sperm motility due to dietary treatment during 48 and 51 WOA during Trial 1. During Trial 2, sperm motility differences were observed at 53 WOA with the soybean oil-treated toms having the largest absorbance reading and the chicken fat-treated toms having the largest absorbance reading during 56 WOA. The live vs. dead sperm cells during Trial 1 revealed differences among the toms prior to treatment and post treatment. No dietary effects on percent live vs. dead sperm cells were observed during Trial 2. Once per mo, eggs were collected for a one-week period to analyze for sperm penetration of the perivitelline layer. In Trial 1, sperm from toms fed chicken fat produced more penetrations (holes) during 36, 48, and 52 WOA. In Trial 2, sperm penetration values were lower for toms fed fish oil during 42, 47, and 51 WOA. Whereas there were significant differences in fertility, hatch of total eggs, and hatch of fertile eggs among treatments in Trial 1, a bacterial contamination on the farm during weeks seven through fourteen may have contributed to these findings. No significant differences due to treatment were found in these parameters during the second study. The fatty acid analysis of spermatozoa collected at the conclusion of Trial 2 revealed significant differences in total n-3 and total n-6 content, leading to significant differences in the ratio of total n-6 to total n-3. The mixed results indicated the fertilizing ability of domesticated turkey spermatozoa may not be affected by the n-6 to n-3 ratio in the diet of the tom.