Poultry Premix and Mineral Feed
Vitamins, minerals, nutrition and performance
The balance of minerals and vitamins in poultry diets has become increasingly important to optimize diet compositions and meet the demands of modern poultry production.
While vitamin and mineral nutrition play small part relative to complete nutrition, they have a crucial role in bird well-being and performance, along with supporting crucial body functions e.g. performance, growth, fertility, immunity (Ewing and Charlton, 2007).
Continual improvements in production and performance levels, changes in feedstuffs, husbandry, legislations, environmental requirements and animal welfare mean that vitamin and mineral nutrition is dynamic and requires a consistent, regular and accurate assessment in all animal production systems (Ewing and Charlton, 2007).
The need for poultry premixes in finished poultry feed
Finished feed is incomplete in the absence of supplemented vitamins and minerals. Most (typically plant-based) feedstuffs are rich in protein and energy, but lack sufficient amounts of trace elements or certain vitamins. Additionally, the availability of different nutrients in feedstuffs (non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs), phytate, etc.) vary considerably.
A premix must be added to poultry diets in order to achieve the sufficient level of vitamins and minerals and prevent birds from becoming malnourished.
Minerals in poultry diets
Minerals are the inorganic elements of a bird’s diet. They are required in small amounts relative to organic elements, but even so, they have a sizeable impact on the bodily functions of avian species. Appropriate amounts of different minerals are needed in poultry diets in order to (Kirchgeßner, 2004):
- Maintain critical life functions
- Improve performance
- Deliver additional benefits
A variety of minerals are involved in the formulation of poultry diets and can be classified as follows.
The various types of minerals in poultry diets have different effects and functions. Macrominerals are often components of structural tissue (e.g. bone, muscle, organs, soft tissue) or body fluids. They play a key role in the maintenance of the acid-base balance and osmotic pressure. In case of nervous transmission, muscle function and membrane electric potential, they are crucial.
Microminerals include components of hormones, metallo-enzymes and enzyme factors, a few vitamins and amino acids. They also are related to adequate immune response and play a main role in the control of cell replication and differentiation.
Se, Mn, Zn, Cu, cobalt and iodine have to be supplemented to poultry diets, because the levels found in different feed raw materials are often too low for reaching expected performance levels (Ewing and Charlton, 2007).
Table 2. Categories of minerals in poultry nutrition | BIOMIN
|Essential minerals||Required in diets to support adequate performance (growth, reproduction, health)||Phosphorus, Sodium, Selenium|
|Non-essential minerals||Do not play an active role in the organism.|
|Macrominerals (Major minerals)||Found with more than 50 mg per kg body weight||Calcium (Ca), Phosphorus (P), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), Chlorine (CI) and Sulphur (S). Na, K and CL are also known as electrolytes (Jeroch et al., 2013)|
When analysis for feed raw materials or finished feed diets are done, results for nutrient levels (like P, vitamins, Ca, Zn, etc.) are provided.
It is important to highlight that not all minerals are available or digestible for birds simply because they are in the feed material.
The digestion and utilization of nutrients depend on a host of different factors (Ewing and Charlton, 2007), including:
- Synergistic and antagonistic effects
- Environmental factors
Poultry mineral supplements can support proper diet formulation and birds’ growth.
Vitamins in poultry nutrition
Vitamins are active, organic compounds that are essential for body functions and have a crucial impact with only small amounts in the feed to maintain physiological functions.
A few vitamins play a role as co-enzymes (e.g. B-vitamins), also as precursors of co-enzymes, in metabolic processes. The difference between vitamins and minerals is that vitamins do not provide energy (e.g. P is necessary for building up ATP, which is the energy source in the living organisms), nor act as building substances (e.g. Ca – bones, eggshells, teeth…) (Jeroch et al., 2008 and Ewing and Charlton, 2007).
Vitamins are found in plant and animal based feed materials in varying amounts. Nowadays, vitamin supplements for chickens are frequently produced synthetically or as a result of fermentation processes. Some vitamins have a direct effect without activation necessary, e.g. vitamin E and vitamin C. Pro-vitamins (preliminary stage, e.g. vitamin D) can be converted into active forms by the animal itself.
Vitamins can be classified into fat-soluble, water-soluble, fat-soluble vitamin-like substances and water-soluble vitamin-like substances.
Table 3. Vitamins by category and common name (adapted from Jeroch et al., 2008 and Ewing and Charlton, 2007)
|Vitamin||Fat- | Water-|
|A||+ | -||-||Retinol|
|D||+ | -||-||Cholecalciferol (D3)|
|E||+ | -||-||α-tocopherol|
|K||+ | -||+||Phylloquinone|
|B1||- | +||+||Thiamin|
|B2||- | +||+||Riboflavin|
|B6||- | +||+||Pyridoxine|
|B12||- | +||+||Cobalamin|
|Niacin||- | +||+||Vitamin B3|
|Pantothenic acid||- | +||+||Vitamin B5|
|Folic acid||- | +||+||Vitamin M|
|Biotin||- | +||+||Vitamin H|
|C||- | +||-||Ascorbic acid|
In feedstuffs, fat-soluble vitamins are associated with lipid (fat) components and consist of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. Their duty in the metabolism is more on the side of development and maintenance of tissues. They are stored in the body in considerable amounts and mainly excreted in the feces via the bile. Important to note is that an excessive intake can result in severe problems (“Hypervitaminosis”) in the animals, e.g. Vitamin D excess results in decalcification of bones and storage of Ca in blood vessels.
Water-soluble vitamins are involved in enzymatic functions and control of the metabolism (co-enzyme function). They consist of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, also nitrogen, Sulphur or cobalt. Different to the fat-soluble fraction, water-soluble vitamins are not well stored in the body, except for vitamin B12. Important to note here is that a continuous supply has to be assured and an excess can be rapidly excreted in urine. Additional B-vitamins can be produced by microbes in the large intestine (absorption is limited).
The requirement (req) can be described in req per animal and day or req per unit mass of feed stuff/diet.
Requirement varies among animal species and is influenced by other factors (Jeroch et al., 2008 and Ewing and Charlton, 2007):
- Level of performance
- Quality of feed
- Health status
- Physiological stage (e.g. growth, reproduction, etc.),
- Environment (e.g. housing conditions, hygiene, climate, etc.)
Both the physical and nutritional properties of poultry premixes play a role in their effectiveness in final diet composition, flock health and performance.
Table 5. Physical and nutritional properties of poultry premixes | Source: BIOMIN
|Physical aspects||Nutritional aspects|
|Raw material selection||Nutrient availability|
|Distribution of nutrients inside the premix||Quality of the carrier|
|Stability of nutrients||Additional values (additives)|
|Compatibility of the carrier||Animals' nutrient requirementws|
|Mixability in feed|
|Flowability of the premix|
Nutrient availability for birds is affected by a host of factors (Jeroch et al., 2008 and Ewing and Charlton, 2007), including:
- Diet composition
- Feed quality e.g. mycotoxins in poultry feed
- Bioavailability of nutrients
- Stability of vitamins or nutrients
- Dietary intake
- Nutrient inter-relationships
Feed additives in poultry premixes
Poultry premixes may deliver more than nutrition through the inclusion of feed additives. Feed additives can be added on top of a finished feed diet or can be provided within the mineral feed or premix.
In modern poultry husbandry, often challenges occur. Through feeding solutions, mycotoxin risk management and gut performance management, farmers are able to protect, support or rehabilitate their poultry flocks.
Common challenges in the field often involve:
Ewing W. N., Charlton S.J. The MINERALS Directory: 2nd Edition Your easy to use guide on minerals in animal nutrition. Context Products Ltd 2007.
Ewing W. N., Charlton S.J. The VITAMINS Directory: Your easy to use guide on vitamins in animal nutrition. Context Products Ltd 2007.
Jeroch H., Simon A., Zentek J. Geflügelernährung. Eugen Ulmer KG 2013.
Jeroch H., Drochner W., Simon O. Ernährung landwirtschaftlicher Nutztiere. Eugen Ulmer KG 2008.
Kirchgeßner M. Tierernährung. DLG-Verlags-GmbH 2004. 11. Auflage.