Omega-3: How backyard chickens can help
Published on Tue, 01/10/2017 - 1:32pm
With the right flock management, research shows that farm fresh eggs can be a good source of omega-3.
Shoreview, Minn. [January 10, 2017] – Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of your family’s diet. Many institutions, including Harvard School of Public Health, have listed benefits of consuming enough of this essential nutrient.Traditional sources of omega-3s include fish, nuts and green, leafy vegetables. Today, you can add farm fresh eggs to that list.
“Eggs have long been known as one of nature’s top protein sources,” says Patrick Biggs, Ph.D., a flock nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition. “Though they weigh only about two ounces, each egg provides six grams of easily digestible protein and nine essential amino acids – at just 70 calories a piece.”
Because of these benefits, eggs are an American food staple. In fact, on average, each American eats 250 eggs each year. Altogether, that’s more than 76.5 billion eggs consumed in the U.S. last year.Many food scientists have considered ways to further increase the nutrition profile of eggs. That’s where omega-3 fatty acids come in.
“Nutritionists often look at two types of beneficial fatty acids: omega-3s and omega-6s,” says Biggs. “Each of these nutrients is essential to the diet. The most important part of the story, though, is balance. For these nutrients to work their best, they should be consumed in equal levels.”
Unfortunately, the typical American diet contains more omega-6 than omega-3. To even out the balance, the necessary omega-3s can come from your diet.
“Realizing the importance of omega-3s, the team at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center looked for ways to add more of this nutrient into eggs,” Biggs explains. “Hens are excellent feed converters, channeling nutrients from their feed into their eggs. For that reason, the nutrition in eggs all comes back to hen nutrition.”
The team started by looking at the nutritional profile of standard store-bought or farm fresh eggs. They found that a typical 56-gram egg has about 50 milligrams of omega-3.
“Our team looked for ways to increase omega-3 from that 50-milligram mark,” Biggs says. “We did several studies, tried many feed combinations and found specific nutrients that hens easily transfer directly into their eggs. By adding some next level nutrients into Purina® Layena® crumbles and pellets and then creating Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3, hens were able to produce eggs with 250 milligrams of omega-3.”
Biggs says the benefit of a complete feed with omega-3 primarily impacts egg production.
“Complete feeds that include omega-3 have the same essential nutrients for hens as our other complete layer feeds. The difference comes down to the eggs they produce,” he says. “For laying hens, make sure to choose a complete feed that includes the 38 different nutrients needed for hen health and happiness. There are a few next level nutrients, like omega-3, that can then help hens bring their eggs to the next level.”
Purina Animal Nutrition LLC (www.purinamills.com) is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers throughout the United States. Driven to unlock the greatest potential in every animal, the company is an industry-leading innovator offering a valued portfolio of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is headquartered in Shoreview, Minn. and a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.
 “Omega-3 fatty acids: An essential contribution.” Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/. 9 December 2016.
2 “About the U.S. Egg Industry.” American Egg Board. http://www.aeb.org/farmers-and-marketers/industry-overview. 9 December 2016.
3 When fed a diet of Layena® Plus Omega-3 exclusively for at least 3 weeks. Based on large egg (50g). Results may vary with factors such as total diet and hen health. Compared to a typical egg that contains 65mg omega-3 fatty acids.