University of Delaware researchers have discovered that lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme crucial for fat metabolism, may be contributing to wooden breast syndrome in broiler chickens. Wooden breast syndrome can affect broiler chickens, making the meat hard and chewy. It is a costly problem that can render the birds unmarketable, causing significant economic losses for growers, who sometimes see the disease in up to half their flocks.

The UD research team, led by Behnam Abasht, associate professor of animal and food sciences in UD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, have identified gene expression irregularities at the onset of wooden breast syndrome that suggest the disease is a metabolic disorder characterized by abnormal fat accumulation in the breast muscle tissue. The research team reported their results on Wednesday, Nov. 20 in the journal Scientific Reports.

The findings could help drive short-term solutions to help growers manage the condition in chickens at the production level through feed additives or supplements, or to reduce the number of birds that develop the condition. "The industry desperately needs a solution right now. Conservative estimates project that wooden breast syndrome is costing the U.S. agricultural community $200 million dollars per year, but this number may be much higher," said Abasht.

(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily.