Skip to main content Accessibility help

Use of flaxseed in poultry feeds to meet the human need for n-3 fatty acids



Health benefits of fatty acids (FA) of the n-3 family have been well documented. The current consumption of n-3 FA by humans is below the recommended intake in Western countries. There are two sources of n-3 FA: α-linolenic acid (18-3 n-3, ALA) from terrestrial sources and long chain 20 and 22 carbon n-3 FA from marine oils. There is an increased interest in developing food products such as eggs and meat enriched with n-3 FA to meet the human requirement. In this context, poultry food lipids are a highly targeted and well-researched food item. Among the different feed sources, flaxseed, owing to its high fat (~40-42%) and ALA (>50%) contents along with other nutritional properties (e.g., metabolisable energy, protein content), is the most common feed ingredient explored for n-3 FA enrichment. This review attempts to bring together the use of flaxseeds in poultry feeds and its role in meeting the human requirements of n-3 FA through n-3 FA enriched foods. The antinutritional factors (ANF) present in flaxseeds and ways to mitigate the negative effects of ANF in poultry feeding are also included.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author:
†Current address: Sari Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources University, Sari, Mazandaran, Iran


Hide All
AHMAD, S., KAMRAN, Z. and KOUTOULIS, K.C. (2016) Supplemental linseed on egg production, in: HESTER, P.Y. (Ed) Egg Innovation and Strategies for Improvement, pp. 349-364 (Academic Press, San Diego, CA, United States).
ALZUETA, C., RODRIGUEZ, M.L., CUTULI, M.T., RBOLEM, A., ORTIZ, L.T., CENTENO, C. and TREVINO, J. (2003) Effect of whole and demucilaged linseed in broiler chicken diets on digesta viscosity, nutrient utilisation and intestinal microflora. British Poultry Science 44: 67-74.
APPERSON, K.D. and CHERIAN, G. (2017) Effect of whole flax seed and carbohydrase enzymes on gastrointestinal morphology, muscle fatty acids, and production performance in broiler chickens. Poultry Science 96: 1228-1234,
AYMOND, W.M. and VAN ELSWYK, M.E. (1995) Yolk thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and n-3 fatty acids in response to whole and ground flaxseed. Poultry Science 74: 1388-1394.
BARCELÓ-COBLIJN, G. and MURPHY, E.G. (2009) Alpha-linolenic acid and its conversion to longer chain n-3 fatty acids: Benefits for human health and a role in maintaining tissue n-3 fatty acid levels. Progress in Lipid Research 48: 355-374.
BEAN, L.D. and LEESON, S. (2003) Long-term effects of feeding flaxseed on performance and egg fatty acid composition of brown and white hens. Poultry Science 82: 388-394.
BEHESHTI MOGHADAM, M.H., SHEHAB, A. and CHERIAN, G. (2017) Methionine supplementation augments tissue n-3 fatty acid and tocopherol content in broiler birds fed flaxseed. Animal Feed Science and Technology 228: 149-158,
BETTI, M.T., PEREZ, I., ZUIDHOF, M.J. and RENEMA, R.A. (2009) Omega-3-enriched broiler meat: 3. Fatty acid distribution between triacylglycerol and phospholipid classes. Poultry Science 88: 1740-1754.
BHATTY, R.S. (1995) Nutrient composition of whole flaxseed and flaxseed meal, in: CUNNANE, S.C. & THOMPSON, L.U. (Eds) Flaxseed in Human Nutrition, pp. 22-42 (Champaign, Illinois, AOCS Press).
BISHARA, H.N. and WALKER, H.F. (1977) The vitamin B6 status of pigs given a diet containing linseed meal. British Journal of Nutrition 37: 321-331.
BRADBURY, J.H. and HOLLOWAY, W. (1988) Antinutritional factors in root crops, in: Chemistry of Tropical Root Crops: Significance for Nutrition and Agriculture in the Pacific, pp. 201 (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra).
BRENNA, J.T., SALEM, N., SINCLAIR, A.J. and CUNNANE, S.C. (2009) alpha-Linolenic acid supplementation and conversion to n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in humans. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 80: 85-91.
BURDGE, G.C. and CALDER, P.C. (2005) Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to longer chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in human adults. Reproduction Nutrition Development 45: 581-597.
CALDER, P.C. (2013) Mechanisms of action of (n-3) fatty acids. The Journal of Nutrition 142: 592-599.
CASTON, L.J., SQUIRES, E.J. and LEESON, S. (1994) Hen performance, egg quality, and the sensory evaluation of eggs from SCWL hens fed dietary flax. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 74: 347-353.
CHERIAN, G. (2009) Eggs and Health: Nutrient Sources and Supplement Carriers, in: WATSON, R.R. (Ed) Complementary and Alternative Therapies and the Aging Population, pp. 333-346 (Academic Press).
CHERIAN, G. (2016) Supplemental flax and impact on n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in eggs, in: HESTER, P. (Ed) Egg innovation and strategies for improvement, pp. 365-372 (Elsevier Inc).
CHERIAN, G. and HAYAT, Z. (2009) Long-term effects of feeding flaxseeds on hepatic lipid characteristics and histopathology of laying hens. Poultry Science 88: 2555-2561.
CHERIAN, G. and QUEZADA, N. (2016) Egg quality, fatty acid composition and immunoglobulin Y content in eggs from laying hens fed full fat camelina or flax seed. Journal of Animal Science & Biotechnology 7: 374-361.
DE LORGERIL, M., RENAUD, S. and MAMELLE, N. (1994) Mediterranean α-linolenic acid-rich diet in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease . Lancet 343: 1454-1459.
DE LORGERIL, M., SALEN, P., MARTIN, J.L., MAMELLE, N., MONJAUD, I., TOUBOUL, P. and DELAYE, J. (1996) Effect of a Mediterranean type of diet on the rate of cardiovascular complications in patients with coronary artery disease. Insights into the cardioprotective effect of certain nutriments. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 28: 1103-1108.
FRAEYE, I., BRUNEEL, C., LEMAHIEU, C., BUYSE, J., MUYLAERT, K. and FOUBERT, I. (2012) Dietary enrichment of eggs with omega-3 fatty acids: A review. Food Research International 48: 961-969.
GONZALEZ-ESQUERRA, R. and LEESON, S. (2000) Effect of feeding hens regular or deodorised menhaden oil on production parameters, yolk fatty acid profile, and sensory quality of eggs. Poultry Science 79: 1597-1602.
GONZALEZ-ESQUERRA, R. and LEESON, S. (2001) Alternatives for enrichment of eggs and chicken meat with omega-3 fatty acids. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 81: 295-305.
GRIFFIN, B.A. (2012) Goldilocks and the three bonds. New evidence for the conditional benefits of dietary a-linolenic acid in treating cardiovascular risk in the metabolic syndrome. British Journal of Nutrition 108: 579-580.
HAYAT, Z., CHERIAN, G., PASHA, T.N., KHATTAK, F.M. and JABBAR, M.A. (2009) Effect of feeding flax and two types of antioxidants on egg production, egg quality and lipid composition of eggs. The Journal of Applied Poultry Research 18: 541-551.
HEAD, B. (2016) Lipid metabolism and the broiler chicken: effect of dietary n-3 fatty acids. Master of Science Thesis, Oregon State University.
JIA, W., SLOMINSKI, B.A., GUENTER, W., HUMPHREYS, A. and JONES, O. (2008) The effect of enzyme supplementation on egg production parameters and omega-3 fatty acid deposition in laying hens fed flaxseed and canola seed. Poultry Science 87: 2005-2014.
JIA, W. and SLOMINSKI, B.A. (2010) Means to improve the nutritive value of flaxseed for broiler chickens: the effect of particle size, enzyme addition, and feed pelleting. Poultry Science 89: 261-269.
JIANG, Z., AHN, D.U., LADNER, L. and SIM, J.S. (1991) Influence of feeding full fat flax seeds and sunflower seeds on internal and sensory qualities of eggs. Poultry Science 71: 378-382.
KRIS-ETHERTON, P.M., TAYLOR, D.S. and YU-POTH, S. (2000) The polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the United States. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 71: 178S-179S.
LEE, K.H., QI, G.H. and SIM, J.S. (1995) Metabolisable energy and amino acid availability of full-fat seeds, meals, and oils of flax and canola. Poultry Science 74: 1341-1348.
MOSHAROV, E., CRANFORD, M.R. and BANERJEE, R. (2000) The quantitatively important relationship between homocysteine metabolism and glutathione synthesis by the transsulfuration pathway and its regulation by redox changes. Biochemistry 39: 13005-13012.
OOMAH, B.D. (2001) Flaxseed as a functional food source . Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 81: 889-894.
POURESLAMI, R. and BATAL, A.B. (2012) Modifying meat lipids for human health, in: CHERIAN, G. & POURESLAMI, R. (Eds) Fats and Fatty Acids in Poultry Nutrition and Health, pp. 71-84 (Context Products Ltd., UK).
POURESLAMI, R., RAES, K., TURCHINI, G.M., HUYGHEBAERT, G. and DE SMET, S. (2010) Effect of diet, sex and age on fatty acid metabolism in broiler chickens: n-3 and n-6 PUFA. British Journal of Nutrition 104: 189-197.
ROCHA-E-SILVA, R.C., CORDEIRO, L.A. and SOTO-BLANCO, B. (2010) Cyanide toxicity and interferences with diet selection in quail (Cortunic coturnix). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology C-Toxicology & Pharmacology 151: 294-297.
SCHEIDELER, S.E. and FRONING, G.W. (1996) The combined influence of dietary flaxseed variety, level, form, and storage conditions on egg production and composition among vitamin E-supplemented hens. Poultry Science 75: 1221-1226.
SCHUMANN, B.E., SQUIRES, E.J. and LEESON, S. (2000) Effect of dietary flaxseed, flax oil and n-3 fatty acid supplement on hepatic and plasma characteristics relevant to fatty liver haemorrhagic syndrome in laying hens. British Poultry Science 41: 465-472.
SHEN, Y., FENG, D., FAN, M.Z. and CHAVEZ, E.R. (2005a) Performance, carcass cut-up and fatty acids deposition in broilers fed different levels of pellet-processed flaxseed. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 85: 2005-2014.
SHEN, Y., FENG, D., ORESANYA, T.F. and CHAVEZ, E.R. (2005b) Fatty acid and nitrogen utilisation of processed flaxseed by adult chickens. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 85: 1137-1142.
SIMOPOULOS, A.P. (2000) Role of poultry products in enriching the human diet with n-3 PUFA. Human requirement for n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Poultry Science 79: 961-970.
SLOMINSKI, B.A. (2011) Recent advances in research on enzymes for poultry diets. Poultry Science 90: 2013-2023.
SLOMINSKI, B.A., MENG, X., CAMPBELL, L.D., GUENTER, W. and JONES, O. (2006) The use of enzyme technology for improved energy utilisation from full-fat oilseeds. Part II: Flaxseed. Poultry Science 85: 1031-1037.
STARK, K.D., VAN ELSWYK, M.E., HIGGINS, M.R., WEATHERFORD, C.A. and SALEM, N. (2016) Global survey of the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the blood stream of healthy adults. Progress in Lipid Research 63: 132-152.
USDA - UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (2016) Advertised prices for Shell Eggs & Egg products to Consumers. At Major Retail Supermarket Outlets during the period 05/20 through 05/2. USDA National Retail Report- Shell Egg and Egg Products Feature Activity: 1-4.
VAN ELSWYK, M.E. (1997) Nutritional and physiological effects of flax seed in diets for laying fowl. World's Poultry Science Journal 53: 253-263.
WESTBROOK, L.A. (2016) Enzyme supplementation of layer hen diets containing whole flaxseed to increase n-3 fatty acids in chicken eggs. Master of Science Thesis, Oregon State University.
ZUIDHOF, M.J., BETTI, M., KORVER, D.R., HERNANDEZ, F.I.L., SCHNEIDER, B.L., CARNEY, V.L. and RENEMA, R.A. (2009) Omega-3-enriched broiler meat: 1. Optimisation of a production system. Poultry Science 88: 1108-1120.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World's Poultry Science Journal
  • ISSN: 0043-9339
  • EISSN: 1743-4777
  • URL: /core/journals/world-s-poultry-science-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed