Ulvan extracted from green seaweeds as new natural additives in diets
for laying hens
Received: 7 February 2017 /Revised and accepted: 5 December 2017 / Published online: 6 March 2018
Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
Ulvan extracted from the green seaweed Ulva was added in laying hen diets. The effect of ulvan on laying performance, egg
quality, immunity function, and antioxidant capacity was evaluated using Hy-Line Brown hens. Six groups of birds (n =864,
61 weeks old) were fed on the basal diet containing ulvan at 0, 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 0.8, and 1% for 8 weeks. The results were compared
with the control group. Ulvan at concentrations of 0.1 to 1% can significantly improve the egg production (P < 0.05), and higher
concentrations (1%) increased the egg weight and decreased feed conversion ratio of hens (P < 0.05). Ulvan at higher concen-
trations (0.8%, 1%) also helped to improve the eggshell strength (P < 0.05). Ulvan at concentrations of 0.5 to 1% leads to a yolk
color to red tendency, and ulvan at concentrations 0.05 to 1% can significantly decrease cholesterol levels of yolk (P <0.05).
Treatments with high levels (1%) of ulvan showed a positive effect on interleukin-6 as well as 0.8% of ulvan on interferon-γ
(P < 0.05). There are significant interactions (P < 0.05) on the time × ulvan level on total antioxidative capacity,
malondialdehyde, and superoxide dismutase levels of blood serum. These findings thus suggested that ulvan extract can be used
as additives in diets for laying hens.
In recent years, many kinds of poultry diseases have emerged.
Farmers have to rely on antibiotic treatment against various
diseases. The excessive and indiscriminate use of antibiotics
drugs in the poultry industry has led to concerns such as de-
velopment of antibiotic resistant strains of pathogens, high
concentrations of antibiotic residues in meat or egg products,
and undesirable changes in the microbial communities of an-
imal intestinal tracts (Filazi et al. 2005;Sharghetal.2012;
Tellez et al. 2012). We need to find new alternatives to replace
or reduce overuse of antibiotics in the breeding industry of
poultry. Thus, can we find a kind of natural biological product
which cannot only eliminate or prevent poultry disease but
also improve the quality of food such as meat and eggs?
With the continuous development of marine resources, count-
less species of algae with favorable biological activity have
been reported to be acceptable for inclusion in diets for rats,
broiler chickens, laying hens, swine, and other animals
(Becker 2007; Kotrbáček et al. 2015). Kulshreshtha et al.
(2014) reported that feed supplementation with red seaweeds
affects performance, egg quality, and gut microbiota of laying
hens. El-Deek and Brikaa (2009) also found that feeding sea-
weeds has led to an increase in the growth rate and nutrient
uptake in chickens and ducks.
Algae contain abundant carbohydrate, fibers, protein, and a
variety of vitamins. The cell walls of marine algae are rich in
sulfated polysaccharides which are becoming more and more
important in biochemical and medical fields (Zhang et al.
2010; Souza et al. 2012). Sulfated polysaccharides have a
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s10811-017-1365-2) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
* Hongxuan He
National Research Center for Wildlife Born Diseases, Institute of
Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, People’s
Republic of China
Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd, Qingdao 266073, People’s
Republic of China
Beijing General Station of Animal Husbandry Service,
Beijing 100101, People’sRepublicofChina
Journal of Applied Phycology (2018) 30:2017–2027