New method to increase yolk color and egg nutritional quality

Summary of the technology

The University of Lleida seeks industrial partners with expertise in the sector of crop production to adopt a new technology of optimized feed solution for egg producers (poultry market). The type of partner sought is for the regulatory codevelopment and commercialization of our solution under a technology license agreement.

Universitat de Lleida
Universitat de Lleida

Details of the Technology Offer

The total demand for animal products in developing countries is expected to more than double by 2030. Producers are really concerned to avoid pale yolks as most egg marketing authorities require deep-yellow to orange-yellow yolk colors. To this end, egg producers must include commercial supplements based on carotenes in animal feed which increases production costs and complicates the manufacturing process. Although fruits and vegetables are particularly good sources of certain carotenoids, cereal grains generally lack these compounds, leading to certain deficiencies in countries where cereals are either the staple diet or the basis of feed for animal farming.

We have developed different varieties of maize producing high amounts of carotenoids by means of combinatorial genetic transformation.

The technology developed relates to a number of different hybrid varieties of maize producing high amounts of antioxidants. In relation to this, it has been developed a new feeding method to produce high quality eggs with no need to supplement feed with commercial pigments. In particular, hens lay eggs with an intense golden yolk (range 10 to 12 on the DSM Yolk Colour Fan) when fed with our maize varieties. Consumed by the laying hens, carotenoids are readily transferred to the blood and then deposited in the yolk to provide this strong pigmentation. Egg quality parameters - egg weight, fracture strength, albumen height, Haugh units or shell thickness - are not altered when compared to eggs laid by hens feed with commercial maize. Eggs also accumulate high-content of carotenoids and ketocarotenoids (astaxanthine) and retain high quality nutritional parameters. These eggs may have a better acceptance by consumers due to both properties (colour and nutritional aspects).

The technology is currently protected and offers the following advantages:

  • Enables to obtain higher levels of carotenoids and ketocarotenoids (astaxanthin) in eggs when compared to commercial feed
  • Higher consumer acceptance due to attractive yolk color (10 to 12 DSM Yolk Colour Fan)
  • No exogenous sources of carotenoids in feed are needed to obtain commercial eggs
  • The technology can be used for other commercial applications including feed for other animals with high nutritional requirements of carotenoids and ketocarotenoids.

We seek industrial partners with expertise in the sector of crop production to adopt a new technology useful to deliver optimized feed solution for egg producers. The type of partner sought is mainly for regulatory development and commercialization under a technology license agreement.

Current development status

Experimental technologies


Several commercial applications are currently identified: (1) Feed for laying hens (egg production). (2) Feed for other animals with high nutritional requirements of carotenoids and ketocarotenoids (poultry, salmon, rainbow trout, crustaceans, lobster, shrimp, and other animals with special carotenoid needs). (3) Natural source of carotenoids and ketocarotenoids for the production of feed additives or supplements, natural food colorants, nutrient supplement, nutraceuticals for cosmetic and pharmaceutical purposes.

Desired business relationship

Patent licensing

Regulatory development

New technology applications

Intellectual property status

Related Keywords

  • Biological Sciences
  • Agriculture and Marine Resources
  • Agriculture
  • Agrofood Industry
  • Genetic Engineering / Molecular Biology
  • Gene Expression, Proteom Research Market

About Universitat de Lleida

The Valorisation and Technology Transfer Unit (UViT) is the specialized unit for handling the IPR portfolio in the University of Lleida. The UViT works close to researchers in the fields of Agrifood, Biomedicine, Technology and Sustainability and Social Development to identify research results with market potential, to assess the community on the best IP protection strategy and to commercialise technologies through licensing-out agreements and the creation of technology-based companies.

Universitat de Lleida

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