Will feeding flax to my laying hens increase omega-3 in their eggs?

L.R.MinnesotaAnswer: Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Flax (Linum usitatissum) is usually grown in the upper Midwest for the oil extracted from the seed. The oil is referred to as linseed oil and is used in paint manufacture and other uses. The remaining product is referred to as linseed meal. Linseed meal is also a valuable livestock feed. It is used as a protein supplement, since the protein content of linseed is around 35 percent.The article “Flax Has Potential in Livestock, Poultry and Pet Diets” discusses feeding whole or ground flaxseed at 15 percent of the ration to layers in order to increase the level of omega-3 fatty acids in the egg from 1 percent to more than 5 percent. There are several commercial companies that produce omega-3 fatty-acid-enriched eggs, several of which are discussed in the articles listed below. Several sample diets are shown in the resource materials.The resources below also include an “Assessment of Market Opportunities for Omega 3 Eggs,” with research funded by the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute in Minnesota.Resources:Anon. No date. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. http://www.eggs.ca/nutrition/faqs/acids.aspCanadian Egg Marketing Agency. No date. Omega-3 enriched eggs. 2 p. www.eggs.ca/pdf/omega-3_e.pdfFlax Council. No date. Flaxseed in egg production. 3 p. www.flaxcouncil.ca/flaxnut17.htmHetland, Cara. 2003. Healthier eggs a new niche for farmers. Minnesota Public Radio. May 21. http://news.mpr.org/features/2003/04/30_hetlandc_omegaeggs/Hickling, Dave. 1997. Flax has potential in livestock, poultry and pet diets. Feedstuffs. January 20. p. 16-17.Manitoba Agriculture and Food. 2001. Increasing Omega-3 fatty acids in eggs from small chicken flocks. May. www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/livestock/poultry/fatty.htmlPickering, Jennifer. 2003. Assessment of market opportunities for Omega 3 eggs. Southwest State University. January 9. 12 p. www.auri.org/research/omega3/pdfs/omegareport.pdfSimmons, Tom. 1998. NUI seeks patent on system to produce Omega eggs. 4 p.www.unl.edu/scarlet/v8n4/v8n4features.htmlUniversity of Nebraska, Lincoln. 2001. Omega eggs a healthier alternative. Earth Times. April. 2 p. www.sdearthtimes.com/et0401/et0401s18.html