January 15, 2024


NutraMaize secures US$460,455 grant for research on combatting heat stress in egg-laying hens



United States agriculture company NutraMaize has been awarded a three-year, US$460,455 grant by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), part of the US Department of Agriculture to fund research into how xanthophyll carotenoids, a class of antioxidants, impact egg-laying hens experiencing heat stress, Purdue University reported.


This initiative builds upon previous studies conducted by NutraMaize and Purdue University collaborators, demonstrating the positive effects of NutraMaize Orange Corn on poultry health and egg quality.


Founded by CEO Evan Rocheford and his father, Torbert Rocheford, the Dr Fred L Patterson Endowed Chair in Translational Genomics for Crop Improvement, NutraMaize focuses on nutritionally enhanced orange corn, available under the brand Professor Torbert's Orange Corn.


Heat stress poses a significant challenge for egg-laying hens, impacting health and productivity, particularly with the increasing frequency and severity of climate change-related events. These conditions lead to physiological changes, resulting in reduced productivity and substantial financial losses for egg producers.


Evan Rocheford said oxidative stress, caused by excess free radicals, is a major consequence of heat stress. Antioxidants play a crucial role in neutralizing free radicals and preventing cell damage. The research project aims to explore the role of xanthophyll carotenoids, potent antioxidants, in mitigating the negative effects of heat stress on laying hens.


The project has three primary goals. Investigate the role of xanthophyll carotenoids in the physiological response of egg-laying hens during heat stress, assess if increased carotenoid intake can mitigate the health and production effects of heat stress, and evaluate NutraMaize's high-carotenoid Orange Corn as an alternative feed ingredient to deliver potential benefits to egg-laying hens.


NutraMaize Orange Corn, with higher xanthophyll carotenoid levels compared to yellow corn, is expected to deliver more carotenoids into the diets of laying hens, enhancing their antioxidant capacity, and stabilising their health and performance during heat stress.


Collaborating with Purdue's College of Agriculture and Egg Innovations, NutraMaize will conduct controlled environment heat stress studies and field studies on egg-laying hens to assess the practical and effective solutions to address the challenges posed by heat stress. The research project aims to contribute valuable insights to the laying hen industry, offering a nutritional approach to mitigate heat stress while enhancing egg quality.


John Brunnquell, CEO of Egg Innovations, said there is an urgent need to identify practical solutions to mitigate the negative effects of heat stress on animal welfare and producer profitability.


-       Purdue University

Video >

Follow Us