Although studies on the effect of L-carnitine on ostriches are limited, there are studies
which have been conducted on other bird species. Golzar Adabi et al. (2006) found that
L-carnitine had a significant effect on the egg production of broiler breeders in the fifth and
sixth weeks of a 6-week trial. They concluded that since L-carnitine plays a well-established
role in the metabolism of lipids, so it may induce some favourable modification in poultry
products, particularly eggs and meat. Çelik et al. (2004) found that L-carnitine had no
effect on liveweight gain, feed intake, egg mass, egg weight, yolk weight, shell weight, yolk
index, egg shape index, yolk colour score and shell thickness. Suchy et al. (2008) studied
the effect of a diet supplemented with L-carnitine on egg weight and laying rate in hens of
pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). The experimental hens were supplemented with L-carnitine
at a level of 0.01%. The results of this study showed that L-carnitine increased egg weight
and laying rate. However, the result of egg production in other birds in the present study
corresponds with the results from Suchy et al. (2008) and part of a study conducted by
Golzar Adabi et al. (2006). But some researchers suggest that dietary L-carnitine does not
influence laying performance. Rabie et al. (1997a, 1997b) found that L-carnitine had no
effect on the external quality of the egg (i.e. egg weight, eggshell index, shell breaking,
breaking strength, shell weight, and shell thickness). Yalcin et al. (2006) indicated that
feeding ostriches diets supplemented with L-carnitine and humic substances did not
significantly affect egg traits (daily feed intake, daily metabolisable energy intake, egg
production, egg weight, feed efficiency, mortality, egg shape index, egg breaking strength,
eggshell thickness, egg albumen index, egg yolk index, egg Haugh unit and the
percentage of eggshell, albumen and yolk). The evidence would suggest that these
different expressions in animals’ response to the dietary carnitine are mainly related to
species differences, age, sex, nutrition, the situation and environment in which the animals
are breeding, and the nutrient composition of their diets (Rabie et al. 1997a, 1997b).
Kita et al. (2005) studied the effect of L-carnitine supplementation (0, 25, 50 and 200
mg/kg) on egg weight, albumen height, Haugh unit, yolk weight and albumen weight of
eggs from laying hens. Overall, egg weight was not affected by dietary L-carnitine
supplementation. The present study showed that different levels of L-carnitine had no
effect on egg weight or the numbers of defective eggshells produced during the trial period.
This coincides with findings by Çelik et al. (2004), Kita et al. (2005) and Rabie et al. (1997a,
1997b). Further research is necessary to study the full impact of L-carnitine on egg
production of ostrich breeders.
We gratefully acknowledge the Iran Ostrich Research International company for financial
help, the construction of facilities and maintenance support. We also thank Dr H. Vahedi for
veterinary support, M. Mazaheri for translation, Dr M. Taleb Shoshtari for editing and M.
M. Gaderi, A. Pirozfar, M. Ansari and G. Porgolam for help with bird care and facility
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Manuscript received 11 April 2008, accepted 17 July 2008
Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture A. Hajibabaei et al.