My question is poultry biochemistry related:
How efficiently do chickens convert ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) to EPA and DHA?
This leads to more questions--
Should I feed them a fish oil supplement in addition to their food for EPA and DHA omega-3s?
Great question! Chickens are quite efficient at converting ALA into longer chain fatty acids such as EPA and DHA.
Layena Plus Omega-3 uses flax seed to provide a supply of ALA to the hens. The hens can take the ALA from flax and add increase its length to form EPA and DHA. For example, a hen fed a diet with no flax or fish will have about 3.28% of the fat that is an omega-3 to convert into longer chains. Hens fed flax can have around 31% of the fat as an omega-3 to convert to longer chains. Those same hens fed the diet with little omega-3 will produce egg yolks that contain 1.64% omega-3 fatty acids – 1.02% DHA and 0.62% ALA, no EPA. The birds fed flax seed in their diet will produce yolks containing 7.82% omega-3 fatty acids – 1.42% DHA, 0.29% EPA, and 5.79% ALA.
We would not recommend adding fish oil to their diet. The omega-3 fatty acids can give the egg a fish-flavor. We have tested the Layena Plus Omega-3 product to determine how much flax seed can be added without altering the flavor of the egg. I would be afraid that adding fish oil on top of this diet might lead you to alter the flavor profile of your eggs. When using fish oil to increase the Omega-3 content of the diet, the maximum amount added is around 2% of the total diet. If you are going to add the oil to the feed, I would do so sparingly. If the eggs start to taste different, then back off the amount of oil being added.
I think it's within the normal range.
@mamadukes1 , I think a hen will eat 5-10% of it's body weight per day.
Five pound hen - 4 to 8 ounces per day