This post was last updated on July 9th, 2013 at 10:54 am
Some years ago I spoke with a representative from the Flax Board at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. We discussed feeding animals flax seed to raise the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids in their meat. Flax is a great source of Omega 3 but it’s a plant-based form (ALA), not the more direct-brain building DHA or EPA that you find in fish. When you feed it to cattle for finishing, their fat ends up with this same plant-based ALA.
The Flax Board member said, “You might as well just eat the flax instead of feeding it to the animals.” I responded, “There is an important exception: Chicken eggs!” I described the superpower of laying hens: They turn plant based Omega 3 ALA into the prized brain-building and heart-protecting Omega 3 DHA and they place the DHA right into their eggs.
Humans can do it too, eating flax seed for instance and increasing their blood levels of DHA, but not everyone does it thoroughly or efficiently. Leverage your chickens to help you.
Feed your chickens a diet rich in flax seed or even in purslane and their bodies will make the conversion for you, placing DHA in the yolk of their eggs. The bugs they manage to eat as they scratch around your yard or garden will also improve the fat profile in that egg yolk.
Improve The Fat Profile Of A Chicken Egg
Recognizing this chicken skill, if you have backyard chickens, consider doing the following:
- Add ground flaxseed to their feed. I have purchased it in bulk and ground it by the gallon to scoop out to the girls.
- Plant a pasture of purslane. The summer “weed” purslane is high in plant-based ALA. It is a hardly plant and prolific reseeder. Plant a pasture of it and let the chickens enjoy it.
- Encourage bug life. Bugs like moisture and good soil. Keep some moist areas for chickens to scratch, even in drier weather if at all possible.