Investigations of the impact of dietary n- 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on performance, metabolism, and immunocompetence responses in broiler breeders and their progeny



Thanabalan, Aizwarya

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University of Guelph


Poorly developed immune and digestive systems in neonatal chicks impede the smooth transition to the production environment and significantly impact lifetime biological and economic performance. The consideration of breeder nutrition may bolster perinatal immunocompetence and resiliency to production stressors. The work presented in this thesis investigated the impact of dietary sources of n -3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) in broiler breeders and their progeny. Broiler breeders were fed diets supplemented with n-3 PUFA sources, either docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or α-linolenic acid (ALA), during rearing and laying (0-64 weeks). During rearing, supplementation of DHA improved body weight uniformity in broiler breeders (0-22) but did not affect lymphoid organ development. Plasma metabolites did not indicate negative impacts of long-term n-3 PUFA supplementation on liver metabolism and overall broiler breeder health during laying (22 – 64 weeks). However, total liver crude fat and body fat content were increased in breeders fed n-3 PUFA-supplemented diets. Egg fatty acid profiles reflected broiler breeder dietary n-3 PUFA profiles, but IgA concentration in hatching eggs was not increased relative to CON fed BB . Broiler chickens hatched from ALA breeders and fed n-3 PUFA had improved jejunal lesion scores in response to an enteric challenge, whereas DHA supplemented broiler chickens from DHA supplemented broiler breeders had higher lesion scores than other treatments. There were no differences in plasma IgA in response to an enteric challenge in offspring. Breast yield at day 42 was also improved in ALA supplemented groups and decreased in DHA supplemented groups. However, tibia bone ash content, a measure of bone mineralization, was improved in the DHA supplemented groups. Dietary provision of n-3 PUFA had beneficial effects on broiler breeders and enriched hatching eggs. Broiler chicks hatched from breeders fed n-3 FA and/or exposed to n-3 PUFA post-hatch exhibited growth and immunocompetence responses dependent on the type of n-3 PUFA. Further research is required to confirm the optimal dose and ideal supplementation window of n-3 PUFA in breeder and offspring diets with consideration of economic tradeoffs.



broiler breeders, n-3 PUFA, broilers, transgenerational, eimeria


Thanabalan, A., & Kiarie, E. G. (2021). Influence of feeding omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to broiler breeders on indices of immunocompetence, gastrointestinal, and skeletal development in broiler chickens. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 8.
Thanabalan, A., & Kiarie, E. G. (2022). Body weight, organ development and jejunal histomorphology in broiler breeder pullets fed n-3 fatty acids enriched diets from hatch through to 22 weeks of age. Poultry Science. 101(1).