Relationship between the fatty acid composition of uropygial gland secretion and blood of meat chickens receiving different dietary fats

Khaled Kanakri, Beverly Muhlhausler, John Carragher, Robert Gibson, Reza Barekatain, Carolyn Dekoning, Kelly Drake, Robert Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Manipulation of the fatty acid composition of chicken feed has been shown to be effective for improving the nutritional value of chicken products. Currently, however, evaluation of the effectiveness of this approach requires invasive blood sampling or post mortem tissue sampling of the birds. Preen oil can be collected non-invasively from live birds. So this study aimed to test the hypothesis that the fatty acid composition of preen oil reflects that of the blood. Male and female meat chickens (Cobb 500) were fed a diet supplemented with 4% (w/w) flaxseed oil (high n-3 polyunsaturates) or beef tallow (mostly monounsaturates and saturates) for 6 weeks. Preen oil and whole blood samples (n ≤ 9 birds per sex/diet treatment group) were collected freshly post mortem for fatty acid analysis. Preen oil analysis showed that ∼97% of fatty acids were saturates, with a small percentage of n-6 polyunsaturates and traces of other types. There were negligible n-3 polyunsaturates in preen oil. Proportions of some saturated fatty acids were slightly, but significantly, affected by diet (C16:0 (P < 0.05) and C17:0 (P < 0.01)) or by gender (C10:0 and C18:0) (P < 0.05). Some fatty acids with odd numbers of carbon atoms (e.g. C17:0 and C19:0) were found in relatively high concentrations in preen oil, despite not being detectable in either the diet or blood. In conclusion, the fatty acid composition of preen oil does not accurately reflect the fatty acid profile of the blood; it is not, therefore, a suitable alternative for determining fatty acid status of meat chickens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-833
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2018


  • gender effect
  • preen oil.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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