Effects of various dietary n-3/n-6 fatty acid ratios on the performance and body composition of broilers
Different combinations of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids were fed to broilers to establish their effect on the fatty acid composition of the broiler carcass and the abdominal fat pad. Six combinations of Canola acid oil (CAO, high levels of C18:3n-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids) and Famarol acid oil (FAO, high levels of C18:2n-6 and saturated fatty acids) were included in the broiler diets from one day of age to six weeks of age, viz. 100% FAO, 80% FAO-20% CAO, 60% FAO-40% CAO, 40% FAO-60% CAO, 20% FAO-80% CAO, 100% CAO. There were no statistically significant differences between dietary groups in weight gain (1.71 ± 0.059 kg) or feed conversion ratios (1.97 ± 0.051 g feed/g gain). No significant differences between treatments were found in the moisture (66.20 ± 0.112%), protein (17.63 ± 0.484%), lipid (15.92 ± 1.507%) and ash (0.95 ± 0.115%) concentration of the carcasses, nor in the moisture (28.77 ± 0.112%), protein (3.03 ± 0.484%), lipid (63.32 ± 9.789%) and ash (0.45 ± 0.135%) concentrations of the abdominal fat pads. With the increase in dietary CAO levels, the mean percentages of C18:2n-6 and C20:4n-6 in the carcasses decreased respectively with 1.78% units from 20.88% and 0.35% units from 1.05%, whilst C18:3n-3 and longer chain n-3 fatty acids such as C20:5n-3 and C22:6n-3 increased respectively with 2.25% units from 1%, 0.1% units from 0.1% and 0.67% units from 0.2%. The same tendency was seen in the abdominal fat pads where C18:2n-6 and C20:4n-6 decreased respectively with 1.55% units from 20.75% and 0.98% units from 1.2% with an increase in dietary CAO, whilst C18:3n-3, C20:5n-3 and C22:6n-3 increased respectively with 2.13% units from 1.15%, 0.45% units from 0.03% and 0.95% units from 0.05%. The n-3/n-6 ratio in the carcasses and abdominal fat pads increased respectively with 0.16% units from 0.06% and 0.19% units from 0.06% with an increase in dietary CAO. These results clearly indicate that dietary CAO enriched with α-linolenic acid lowered the saturated fatty acid concentrations in broiler carcasses and abdominal fat pads with 4.88% units and 10.63% units respectively, and increased the monounsaturated fatty acid concentrations with 3.87% units and 7.25% units, respectively and polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrations with 1.02% units and 2.38% units, respectively. The results of this experiment showed that substitution of Famarol oil with Canola oil in broiler diets can increase the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids in broiler carcasses and abdominal fat pads to 5:1, a ratio more suitable for human health. Increasing the level of n-3 fatty acids in the diets was also effective in reducing the level of saturated fatty acids in the carcasses and abdominal fat pads of broiler chickens resulting in "healthier" chickens. © South African Society for Animal Science.