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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of algal supplementation in feed to broiler breeders on transfer of nutrients and antibodies to chicks and quality of hatchlings

Ivarsson, E.; Wall, H.; Boyner, M.; Cervin, G.; Pavia, H.; Wattrang, E.


Breeder nutrition is an important factor for chick quality since the chick embryo relies on nutrients available in the egg for growth and development. In addition, the egg is providing the chick with important antibodies that are vital during the first weeks of life. Brown algae contains several bioactive compounds, and dietary supplementation with algal extracts have shown improved gut health and immune responses in both pigs and poultry. The aim of this study was to investigate if feeding the brown algae Saccharina latissima, intact or as an extract, to broiler breeders can affect breeder hens' antibody responses to vaccination, egg quality and transfer of antibodies and nutrients to the egg and thereby improve the quality of newly hatched chicks. Forty-five hens and nine roosters of the parent lines of the fast-growing broiler Ross 308 were included in the experiment where hens were 31 weeks at the start. The hens were housed individually and fed one of three dietary treatments for seven weeks; (a) control, (b) addition of 0.6% algal meal or (c) addition of 0.08% algal extract. The hens were given a booster vaccination against infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) 21 days after the start of experiment. During experimental days 32-42, hens were naturally mated every 5th day and hatching eggs were collected. A total of 255 chicks were hatched, and chick quality was assessed. Moreover, on chick day three, blood was collected from 48 focal chickens and total immunoglobulin Y levels and specific titres to IBV in serum were determined. The results showed that feeding the brown algae Saccharina latissima, intact or as an extract to broiler breeders did not affect egg production, egg quality, antibody responses to vaccination or transfer of antibodies from hen to chick. However, feeding intact algae significantly increased the levels of iodine and decreased the level of selenium in the eggs and resulted in a lower proportion of chicks with maximum quality score. Interestingly, algal feeding, both intact and as an extract, increased the abdominal fat pad in broiler breeders by about 17% without affecting BW. In conclusion, supplementation of broiler breeder diets with algal extract from Saccharina latissima, but not intact algal meal is a promising dietary strategy to increase the abdominal fat pad without causing any adverse effects on nutrient level in eggs or chick quality. CO 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of The Animal Consortium. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


Brown algae; Chick quality; Egg quality; Immunity; Laminarin

Published in

2023, Volume: 17, number: 12, article number: 101020Publisher: ELSEVIER