Backyard Poultry

Increasing Omega-3 in Chicken Eggs

Flock Management : Layer Nutrition

Patrick Biggs, Ph.D.

Nutritionist, Companion Animal Technical Solutions

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. 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 the benefits of eating eggs, they 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. 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.

Chicken feed for omega-3 enriched eggs

Realizing the importance of omega-3s, our team at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center looked for ways to add more of this nutrient into eggs. Hens are excellent feed converters, channeling nutrients from their feed into their eggs. For that reason, the nutrients in eggs all come back to hen nutrition.
We started by looking at the nutritional profile of standard store-bought or farm fresh eggs. We 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. 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 omega-3 enriched eggs with 250 milligrams of omega-3.3
The benefit of omega 3 chicken feed 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. 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.

Another important nutrient for laying hens is calcium. Learn how to feed hens for strong shells here.

“Omega-3 fatty acids: An essential contribution.” Harvard School of Public Health. 9 December 2016.
“About the U.S. Egg Industry.” American Egg Board. 9 December 2016.
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.