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The effects of kale (Brassica oleracea ssp. acephala), basil (Ocimum basilicum) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris) as forage material in organic egg production on egg quality

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1. In organic egg production, forage material as part of the diet for laying hens is mandatory. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of feeding with forage materials including maize silage, herbs or kale on egg production and various egg quality parameters of the shell, yolk colour, egg albumen, sensory properties, fatty acid and carotenoid composition of the egg yolk.

2. A total of 5 dietary treatments were tested for 5 weeks, consisting of a basal organic feed plus 120 g/hen.d of the following forage materials: 1) maize silage (control), 2) maize silage incl. 15 g/kg basil, 3) maize silage incl. 30 g/kg basil, 4) maize silage incl. 15 g/kg thyme, or 5) fresh kale leaves. Each was supplied to three replicates of 20 hens. A total of 300 hens was used.

3. Feed intake, forage intake and laying rate did not differ with treatment, but egg weight and egg mass produced increased significantly with the kale treatment.

4. The egg shell strength tended to be higher with the kale treatment, and egg yolk colour was significantly more red with the kale treatment and more yellow with basil and kale treatments. The albumen DM content and albumen gel strength were lowest with the thyme treatment. By sensory evaluation, the kale treatment resulted in eggs with less sulphur aroma, higher yolk colour score, and more sweet and less watery albumen taste. Furthermore, the eggs of the kale treatment had significantly higher lutein and β-carotene content. Also, violaxanthin, an orange xanthophyll, tended to be higher in kale and eggs from hens receiving kale.

5. In conclusion, forage material, especially basil and kale, resulted in increased egg production and eggs of high and differentiable quality.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science, Faculty of Science and Technology,Aarhus University, Tjele,DK-8830, Denmark 2: Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Science and Technology,Aarhus University, Tjele,DK-8830, Denmark

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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