University of California, Davis researchers have found that broccoli byproducts are providing some nutritional benefits when added to poultry feed. The nutrients that remain in the portions of broccoli that are typically discarded after processing appear to cause egg yolk color to deepen when fed to hens.
“My research focuses on use of horticultural byproducts from processing because these byproducts often have a lot of different kinds of nutrients in them,” said Annie King, Professor in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis who was a part of the research project. “What we did with this particular project was to use some older hens and feed them mostly broccoli stems and leaves meal and added it at 15 percent to the diet.”
The recent research article indicates that poultry farmers use a variety of means including synthetic carotenoids to deepen the color of egg yolks, as it is a sought-after trait by food companies and consumers. “We also looked at the eggs and noticed right away this incredible difference in colors between the eggs from the birds that were fed the normal diet and those from the birds that were fed the broccoli stems and leaves meal. It’s just astonishing to see how much of the carotenoids were actually in those eggs and we’re following that up with more research now,” King noted.
The next step in the research will be to take a closer look at exactly how the nutrients from the broccoli byproducts present themselves in eggs and what kind of impact that can have on human consumption. “As a food scientist in an animal science department this project is exciting to me because you take this product, feed it to these animals, get a byproduct and then hopefully see how that byproduct can be helpful to humans,” said King.