Effects of Canthaxanthin on the Productive and Reproductive Performance of Broiler Breeders

Canthaxanthin supplementation of diets for broiler breeders improved hatchability and fertility and reduced the presence of thiobarbituric reactive substances in eggs, according to new research from Brazil.
calendar icon 14 April 2012
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The effects of supplementing canthaxanthin on productive and reproductive aspects of broiler breeders were examined in a study published recently in Poultry Science by Alexandre Rosa of Brazil’s Federal University of Santa Maria and co-authors there and with DSM Nutritional Products.

In total, 360 female pullets and 36 roosters were placed in an open-sided house with 12 pens, each pen with an area of 7.0 square metres (3.5 × 2.0 metres). At 42 weeks of age, the breeder hens and roosters were distributed into two experimental groups with similar bodyweight and uniformity. From 46 to 66 weeks of age, one group received 6mg per kg of canthaxanthin supplemented in the diet and the other group received the diet without the addition of canthaxanthin (control diet).

Body weight was measured every 28 days, the laying rate was calculated weekly, and mortality was evaluated at the end of the study. Twenty–one weekly incubations were performed to evaluate fertility and incubation responses. To evaluate the antioxidant effect of canthaxanthin at different storage times and during the incubation process, eggs from each treatment were subject to thiobarbituric reactive substances analysis.

Bodyweight, mortality and laying rate were not affected by the inclusion of canthaxanthin in the breeder diet.

An increase in hatchability of total and fertile eggs (P=0.0001 and P=0.0003, respectively) in breeders fed canthaxanthin during the experimental period was observed. Canthaxanthin also improved breeder fertility and reduced embryo mortality. This was attributed to reductions in embryo mortality in the first 48 hours of incubation and in the last week of incubation. No differences were observed in bodyweight or quality of the chicks.

A reduction of thiobarbituric–reactive substances was observed in yolks from stored hatching eggs produced by breeders fed diets plus canthaxanthin. The same effect was observed in yolks of eggs stored for four days and incubated for seven days.

Rosa and co-authors concluded from their study that the supplementation of broiler breeder diets with canthaxanthin improved the hatchability rate, fertility, and reduced the presence of thiobarbituric reactive substances in eggs.


Rosa A.P., A. Scher, J.O.B. Sorbara, L.S. Boemo, J. Forgiarini and A. Londero. 2012. Effects of canthaxanthin on the productive and reproductive performance of broiler breeders. Poult. Sci. 91(3):660-666. doi: 10.3382/ps.2011-01582

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April 2012
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