Get access

Effects of an aqueous alfalfa extract on production performance, egg quality and lipid metabolism of laying hens

Authors


J. M. Tong, State Key Lab of Animal Nutrition, Institute of Animal Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, No. 2 Yuanmingyuan Xi Lu, Haidian District, Beijing 100193, China. Tel: +86 10 62816061; Fax: +86 10 62816061; E-mail: tjm606caas@yahoo.com.cn

Summary

The present study was conducted to evaluate the effect of an aqueous alfalfa extract (AAE) on production performance, egg quality and lipid metabolism of laying hens between 28 and 36 weeks of age. Four groups of commercial hens (Hy-Line Brown) were fed with diets containing 0, 0.05%, 0.1% and 0.15% AAE. Dietary AAE had no effect on egg production parameters (p > 0.05). Shell strength was increased (linear and quadratic effects; p < 0.05) with gradient addition of AAE. Furthermore, shell strength was notably higher (p < 0.05) in 0.1% and 0.15% AAE groups than the control group. With an exception of serum low and high density lipoprotein cholesterol, serum total triglycerides and liver cholesterol concentration (day 42), lipid indices in yolk, serum and liver were lowered (linear and quadratic effects; p < 0.05) at day 42 and day 56 as AAE in diets increased, as well as the enzyme activities of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) and β-hydroxy-β-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase. In relation to the control group, cholesterol and triglycerides in yolk, liver and serum and serum very low density lipoprotein cholesterol were lower in 0.15% AAE-treated birds at day 42 and day 56. It also significantly decreased activities of ACC, HMG-CoA reductase and fatty acid synthetase (FAS) at day 56. The 0.1% AAE decreased triglycerides in yolk, liver and serum, as well as the activities of ACC and FAS at day 56. These data suggest that dietary AAE could be applied to improve egg shell quality and modify the lipid status of laying hens and eggs.

Ancillary