Omega-3s and broiler heart health

The University of Adelaide

  • Project code: PRJ-006063

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, August 1, 2011

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, August 1, 2012

  • National Priority: CME-Priority 3-Contributing to efficient and secure chicken production systems


The effectiveness of canola oil, an omega-3 containing vegetable oil, for increasing the broiler heart content of the ‘fish-type’ omega-3 fatty acids, known as EPA and DHA, will be examined. Canola oil will be compared with the fat in commercial diets and with fish oil.
The rationale relates to prevention of Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in broilers. EPA and DHA have cardiac anti-arrhythmic effects in rats, dogs, marmosets and humans. Therefore, they will most likely have the same effects in chickens. The proposed benefits relate to decreased SDS which is most likely due to cardiac (ventricular) arrhythmia secondary to heart failure.
Although fish oil could be used to elevate cardiac EPA and DHA in broilers, this is neither practical nor sustainable for several reasons. Therefore, canola oil will be examined.
A positive result would provide the basis for a larger study that examined the vegetable omega-3 approach for decreasing SDS incidence. However, that is beyond the scope of the present proposal.
A beneficial side effect is expected to be an increase in chicken meat EPA and DHA which can be used to promote benefits of omega-3 chicken to human health.


Chicken Meat

Research Organisation

The University of Adelaide

Objective Summary

The overall longer term GOAL is to decrease SDS (and ascites) in broilers by using vegetable oils to increase the fish-type omega-3 content of chicken heart in a manner which has long term sustainability. Note that there would be no increase in the total fat content of chicken meat with this proposal.
The specific AIMS of this project are:
• To examine the effects of canola oil, relative to fish oil and standard commercial fat, on cardiac EPA and DHA – this is a proof-of-concept study which, if successful, could lead to a larger study with clinical outcomes such as SDS.