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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: High Dietary Levels of Flaxseed Oil and Fish Oil Lower Cecal Lesion Scores in Broiler Chickens Infected with the Cecal Parasite Eimeria Tenella

Authors
item Allen, Patricia
item Danforth, Harry
item Levander, Orville

Submitted to: Flax Institute Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 14, 1993
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Coccidiosis, caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Eimeria cost the American poultry industry about $ 300 million annually, a result of morbidity, mortality, reduced feed efficiency and necessity for use of prophylactic medication in the feed. Emergence of drug resistant strains of coccidia, and the unavailability of widely applicable vaccines has stimulated the search for new methods of coccidiosis control. We have foun that feeding young broiler chicks diets high in the pro-oxidant omega-3 fatty acids reduces the severity of the pathology caused by Eimeria tenella a parasite that attacks the ceca of chickens, causing hemorrhage, morbidity and sometimes death. The source of the omega-3 fatty acids were purified menhaden (fish) oil, flaxseed oil and linseed oil. Diets containing 5% fish oil, 10% flaxseed oil or 10% linseed oil reduced pathology without reducing weight gain or plasma levels of the yellow pigmenting carotenoids. These results suggest that the pro-oxidant properties of diets high in omega-3 fatty acids may be protective against coccidiosis in chickens. They further offer the prospect for new practical uses of these fish and plant oils when fed to young chicks at levels of 5 and 10%.

Technical Abstract: Coccidiosis, caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Eimeria cost the American poultry industry about $ 300 million annually, a result of morbidity, mortality, reduced feed efficiency and necessity for use of prophylactic medication in the feed. Emergence of drug resistant strains of coccidia, and the unavailability of widely applicable vaccines has stimulated the search for new methods of coccidiosis control. Broiler chickens were fed the following diets from 1 day of age through 3 weeks of age: basal mash (broiler starter feed), and basal mash blended with one of the following amounts of fats: 5, 10 or 20% fish oil (FO), 10% flaxseed oil (FLX), 10% linseed oil (LIN), or 10 or 20% medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT). At 2 weeks of age chickens were infected with the cecal parasite, Eimeria tenella. Chickens consuming the FO, FLX and LIN diets had significantly lower mean cecal lesion scores than those on other diets. Chickens eating The 20% FO and 20% MCT diets had reduced mean weight gains. Chickens on the 10 and 20% FO diets but not the the 5% FO, FLX and LIN diets had reduced plasma carotenoids. These results suggest that the pro-oxidant properties of these diets high in omega-3 fatty acids may be protective against coccidiosis in chickens. They further offer the prospect for new practical uses of these fish and plant oils when fed to young chicks at levels of 5 and 10%.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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