Amino acid supplementation could mitigate wooden breast

Amino acid supplementation could help reduce the incidence and severity of wooden breast in broilers without having a negative effect on feed conversion or yield, finds a new research project funded by the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.

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David Tadevosian I shutterstock.com
David Tadevosian I shutterstock.com

Amino acid supplementation could help reduce the incidence and severity of wooden breast in broilers without having a negative effect on feed conversion or yield, finds a new research project funded by the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.

“Wooden breast is a breast muscle myopathy that affects the pectoralis major muscle. These fillets are pale in color and hard in texture. This texture can result in consumer complaints because it isn’t very palatable,” explained William Dozier, Department Head and Professor in the Poultry Science Department at Auburn University.

Experts estimate wooden breast costs the U.S. broiler industry more than $200 million per year.

The project builds on previous Auburn research that reduced one amino acid, lysine, to 85%, or 75% of requirements during the growing period. That study revealed a reduction in the severity of wooden breast with no impact on body weight gain, feed conversion, feed intake or mortality compared to the positive control.

The current research

“With this research, we evaluated the additive effects of reducing amino acid density with phytase, vitamin C and potassium to reduce the incidence and severity of wooden breast,” Dozier said.

In the blood, phytase can act as an antioxidant and possibly reduce wooden breast. In addition, recent research from North Carolina State University showed that supplemental glutamine and arginine, two other amino acids, showed promise in treating the myopathy.

The research team conducted two experiments. The first evaluated growth performance, meat yield responses and breast meat quality on male broilers between one and 53 days of age fed diets with varying levels of lysine and phytase supplementation. The second experiment evaluated the same performance metrics on broilers that were one to 55 days of age fed varying levels of dietary lysine, vitamin C and potassium.

“I’d caution integrators that while lysine reduction may reduce the severity of wooden breast, they should keep an eye on feed conversion and yield.” Dozier warned.

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