Healthier embryonic and neonatal diet helps chickens' survival

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Broiler chickens are more likely to survive after hatching if fed diets high in omega-3 fatty acids. (Photo by Tiffany Woods.)
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OSU research says omega-3 fatty acids give chicks a head start

Oregon State University has shown that feeding hens omega-3 fatty acids improves their chicks' chances of survival. The U.S. broiler industry has historically struggled with high levels of chick mortality; 4 percent of chicks, the equivalent of about 500 million, die soon after birth each year.

OSU has also found that feeding baby chicks diets high in omega-3s within five hours of hatching further increases survival rates. In addition, the university is feeding hens new formulations of flaxseed and camelina with hopes that they'll produce more consistent and robust offspring.

Oregon producers sold $88 million worth of eggs in 2011, making them the state's 15th most important agricultural commodity. They sold $63 million of broilers that year.

Source: Gita Cherian, a poultry nutritionist at OSU.

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