The global market of feed pigments is growing significantly due to its benefits on enhancing the appearance, quality of meat related products, improving egg yolk and broiler skin pigmentation and keeping livestock healthy. Some poultry diseases negatively affect pigmentation of yolk and skin as well, therefore, a uniform and good pigmentation generally means healthy animals and is often associated to egg or meat freshness and an indicator of high quality product.
Carotenoids are natural pigments, widely distributed in nature, responsible for the coloring of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Carotenoids take their name from carrot (Daucus carota), which accumulates high levels of these pigments in the root, being an exception among plants (Stange, 2015). They are used as food colorants, feed supplements, for cosmetic and pharmaceutical purposes.
Animals cannot synthesize carotenoids, therefore, to achieve the desired colour and conform to customer preference, carotenoids began to be added to feed. The colour finally perceived by the consumer is mainly a function of both the quantity and the type of the carotenoids in the diet.
The origins of pigmentation of egg yolk and poultry are diverse, but they are mainly related to health aspects. They are grounded in the traditional familiar farming systems. These systems involve a semi-extensive rearing system where animals have access to grass, maize and high carotenoid diets. Carotenoids from these diets are responsible for the pigmentation of egg yolk, skin (and fat) as well as legs, beak, comb and feathers. When birds fail to consume these xanthophylls, the hues of their egg yolk or skin become paler.
A desirable colour hue can be achieved by mixing yellow and red xanthophylls. Main yellow carotenoids are lutein, zeaxanthin, and apo-ester (the ethyl ester of β-apo8’-carotenoic acid) while red carotenoids are the canthaxanthin and capsanthin. They all can be blended to produce a wide range of yolk colours at lower total xanthophylls levels than feeding yellow supplements alone. However, if red carotenoids were used solely, a pinkish yolk would also result. Therefore, it is important to get the right combination, and taking into account the native xanthophylls present in the feed ingredients of the diet.
Canthaxanthin is an orange-red oxycarotenoid found in crustaceans, fungi and algae, particularly used in color feeding. Canthaxanthin is widely used as poultry feed additive for pigmentation of egg yolks and broiler skin. It is used in combination with yellow carotenoids to intensify the pigmentation and to achieve the desired golden yellow color.
Marigold extract is a xanthophyll pigment mixture extracted from marigold flowers. Its active ingredient is lutein and a few zeaxanthins, a kind of carotenoid, which are deemed to be safe as they are naturally present in edible plants. Marigold meals and extracts are most widely accepted products in poultry feed among the natural pigments. Most of the previous studies on dietary marigold extract in poultry have mainly concentrated upon the pigmentation of poultry and their products especially pigmentation of egg yolk. Marigold extract supplementation can not only enhance the yellowness values of shank, beak, skin and muscle, but also increase the antioxidant capacity of body and meat quality.
Zagro offers both red and yellow pigment products called HAPPY EGG 100 for red pigment and HAPPY EGG 20 for yellow pigment to achieve the desired colour in chicken meat and golden yellow egg yolk.
Happy Egg 100 consists of canthaxanthin, a carotenoid mainly used to impart red pigment to egg yolk and broiler skin and possess a high anti-oxidant activity against oxidative stress.
Happy Egg 20 is composed of natural pigment, yellow carotenoids, extracted from marigold flowers. It is used to enhance the yellow colour of egg yolk, broiler skin and shank.