Feeding Purslane to Chickens to increase the Omega-3 in the eggs.

Two chickens eating dried pursulane.

A prolific weed on our  vegetable garden is Purslane. I was told by the neighbour that chickens love eating it. After looking it up on the internet I discovered that it has a very high omega 3 content. After further research I found out that if you feed Purslane to chickens it increases the omega 3 content of the eggs. There seems to be scientific proof.
Here is a link to the abstract and we quote the conclusion.

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20564433

“CONCLUSION: This study showed that adding dried purslane to the diet of laying hens significantly increased egg production and egg weights although there was no reduction in the egg cholesterol concentration. This study also showed that inclusion of purslane into diet enriched eggs with omega-3 fatty acids and decreased the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 in the yolk.”

I tried two ways of feeding the Purslane to the chickens. The first one is to pick the Purslane and then leave it in the sun to dry. It takes a long time to dry because it is a succulent and is designed to resist dessication. However after 3 or 4 days it does eventually go dry. The thick stems take a little longer. I put the dried pursulane through a garden riddle (sieve with 1cm holes)  and with a bit of scrunching up it forms a nice  mixture of particles most of which are about 3 or 4 millimetres long. This is ideal for adding  to the normal chickenfeed.  Below you can see the  initial test with the chickens eating from a plastic cup of dried purslane. They seem to like it. In the scientific study mentioned above  purslane is added at 10 or 20g per kilo. If that is a good guide for the proportion needed then only a modest amount of dried purslane would be enough to last the winter.

The plastic cup contains dried purslane.

The second method is to give the chickens fresh purslane.They love it if you hold it up to them and they attack it ferociously.

Chicken eating fresh pursulane

They seem much more interested in the purslane if you hand it to them but also it is a good idea to hang it up.

Chicken eating purslane

Don’t forget that you can add purslane directly to salads for human consumption. It has a pleasant lemony taste. I now look upon purslane as a welcome plant rather than a weed.
The omega 3 enriched eggs you get from the supermarket have a fishy taste. Maybe the use of purslane to make omega-3 enriched eggs will become more popular.

There is more info about the plant here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea

 

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