Chickens Fed Olive Oil Are More Resilient to Environmental Stressors, Study Finds

Separate research has also found that olive oil consumption improves the health of chicken meat and eggs for human consumption.
By Lisa Anderson
Jan. 15, 2024 15:03 UTC

A new study has found that chick­ens raised for their meat fed an olive oil-enriched diet were health­ier and more resilient to envi­ron­men­tal stres­sors than chick­ens fed diets enriched with other edi­ble oils.

Researchers from the Desert Research Center in Egypt eval­u­ated how one-day-old broiler chicks fed diets enriched with dif­fer­ent edi­ble oils coped when exposed to envi­ron­men­tal heat stress. They con­cluded olive oil was the best option for boost­ing growth per­for­mance and meat qual­ity.

The chick­ens were divided into groups fed a diet con­tain­ing three per­cent soy oil, corn oil, olive oil, fish oil and a con­trol diet with no edi­ble oil added.

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The researchers found that chick­ens fed an olive oil-enriched diet expe­ri­enced a remark­able increase in high-den­sity lipopro­tein (HDL) cho­les­terol, col­lo­qui­ally known as good cho­les­terol, and super­ox­ide dis­mu­tase. This enzyme serves as an impor­tant antiox­i­dant.

Broiler chicks fed an olive oil-enriched diet also demon­strated the largest decrease in mal­on­di­alde­hyde, a marker of oxida­tive stress, com­pared to chicks fed any other diet.

Furthermore, broiler chicks fed olive oil were deemed to have the high­est meat qual­ity by enhanc­ing color mea­sure­ment and TBA val­ues, a sys­tem used to mea­sure lipid oxi­da­tion in meat.

The new study is the lat­est research to estab­lish the effects of adding olive oil to chicken diets.

In a 2015 study, researchers at the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Italy found that hens who con­sume a diet with polyphe­nol-rich extra vir­gin olive oil lay eggs with a lower cho­les­terol con­tent and a more favor­able fatty acid pro­file. The results sug­gested that these eggs could be health­ier for human con­sump­tion.

Previously, a study from a group of Chinese researchers found that adding olive oil to the diet of broiler chicks resulted in lower lev­els of sat­u­rated fatty acid in their breast and drum­stick meat. As a result, the meat of these chick­ens poses a lower risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease.

In addi­tion to sci­en­tific research, anec­do­tal accounts on the inter­net sug­gest that pigeons, genet­i­cally closely related to chick­ens, also ben­e­fit from olive oil added to their diets.

Moreover, olive oil has long been advo­cated for com­mon ail­ments in pet birds, such as par­rots, para­keets, pigeons and chick­ens. Furthermore, it is used to pro­mote their gen­eral health.

If an avian vet is unavail­able, var­i­ous meth­ods for using olive oil to treat crop impaction are avail­able online. This is a poten­tially fatal con­di­tion where a bird’s crop gets blocked, and food can­not move through its diges­tive sys­tem.

A pop­u­lar way to use olive oil to alle­vi­ate this painful con­di­tion is by warm­ing the oil and admin­is­ter­ing it a few times per day in minute amounts, with a syringe into a bird’s throat and a gen­tle throat mas­sage. Another option is to feed a bird bread driz­zled with olive oil.

For egg bind­ing, when a female bird can­not pass an egg and may result in death, a few drops of olive oil on her beak and vent – where the egg exits – is shared online as a rem­edy.


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