In this study the effects of feeding rosemary, oregano, saffron and α-tocopheryl acetate on hen performance and egg quality were investigated. One hundred-twenty Lohmann laying hens, 32 weeks old, were divided into five groups replicated four times with six hens per replicate. One group was given a basal diet and served as control (CON). The experimental diets given to the other four groups were based on the basal diet but contained an additional 200 mg α-tocopheryl acetate/kg (TOC), or rosemary at 5 g/kg diet (ROS), oregano at 5 g/kg diet (ORE) or saffron at 20 mg/kg diet (SAF). At the end of the feeding trial that lasted 56 days, hen performance and some egg quality characteristics were determined, whereas the oxidative stability of the refrigerated stored shell eggs and liquid yolks were also examined. Results showed no significant differences in egg production, feed intake, feed conversion ratio, egg weight and shape, yolk shape, Haugh units and shell thickness among treatments. However, yolk colour was significantly improved in the SAF group compared to all other groups. The extent of lipid oxidation in shell eggs differed among the dietary treatments, but did not change with storage time. In liquid yolk at pH 6.2, lipid oxidation was higher in the CON group compared to all other groups. The ORE group presented lower oxidation rate than the ROS group, but higher than the SAF group, which in turn exhibited higher oxidation rate than the TOC group. When liquid yolk was acidified to pH 4.2, the lipid oxidation profile remained unchanged but the rate was much more intense.
"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher