In Alberta, farmers face challenges in disposing egg-laying hens that are at the end of their productive cycle. Such hens, known in the industry as “spent hens,” are of little economic value to egg producers. After their production lifespan of one year elapses, their ability to produce eggs drops drastically and disposal is an additional cost. Because of the limited amount of meat on these hens, they are of little value to processors.
But new innovative research funded by the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) seeks to find a solution to the challenge.
The research, led by Dr. Jianping Wu at the University of Alberta, aims to develop bioactive peptides from spent hen carcasses and add value to them.
“Adding value to hen carcasses translates into an additional revenue source for egg producers instead of being a liability. Finding ways to utilize these carcasses will also benefit the environment by redirecting carcasses for processing instead of going to landfill sites,” said Dr. Wu, who originally presented the project using the “grandma’s soup” analogy for the healing effect found in chicken soup, which he believes contains bioactive peptides.
“Most importantly, the support from ALMA allows the development of bioactive peptides with immune functional properties from the hen carcasses. In the long run, we would like to offer a natural health supplement for humans to boost their immune system,” he said.
Gordon Cove, President and CEO of ALMA said the partnership with Dr. Wu is an example of ALMA’s commitment to innovative research to find solutions to challenges facing the livestock industry in Alberta.
“The bottom-line of our research partnerships is to translate research into practical solutions that create profit for the livestock industry in Alberta,” he said.