Capturing the full value of trace mineral supplementation

The selection of a trace mineral source is an important decision to support productivity and health. However, knowing how that source was added and mixed, along with its impact on other essential nutrients in the feed, are equally important parts of an effective precision nutrition strategy…

Gavin Boerboom
Technical Commercial Manager
Selko Feed Additives

While much has been written about trace minerals’ influence on livestock performance, little attention has focused on the actual delivery of trace minerals to the animal. Simply including these essential components in the animal’s diet is not enough. Trace minerals must be delivered at the proper time and at the right level to deliver the desired performance effects in bodyweight gain, feed efficiency and breast meat yield.

Some factors that challenge trace mineral supplementation include the mineral source, its physical properties, accurate weigh out of trace minerals within the mix, proper mixing, and the chemical and positional stability of the trace mineral within a premix or complete feed. Considering how different factors affect the actual level of trace minerals delivered to the animal can bring more precision to trace mineral supplementation.

Figure 1. Vitamin E stability in feed – Source: Lu et al.

Following are three considerations that can help poultry producers enhance the precision of their trace mineral supplementation investment.
1. Stability:
As a common application in feed, a combination of vitamins and trace minerals in premixes is designed to supplement optimal levels in animals, but the negative interactions between vitamins and minerals is often underestimated. Certain inorganic trace mineral forms are classified as pro-oxidants, which means they can promote accelerated oxidation in the premix or complete feed, facilitating the reduced efficacy of essential nutrients which are added to the premix or complete feed like fat, vitamins, microbials, enzymes, etc. (Figure 1). This is because they are highly soluble and unstable complexes and is even more pronounced when processes involving moisture are applied, being the case when pelleting. Using a source, like IntelliBond, that is less soluble and more stable, and therefore less reactive will reduces the potential for degradation of feed ingredients, support the enzyme stability and probiotic survival and improve nutrient delivery quality.

2. Inclusion within a mix: Significant variances in different forms of trace minerals can influence formulation and adversely affect how much of an individual trace mineral is added to a mix. Table 1 clearly shows how added levels of an individual trace mineral can vary within a complete feed formulated to deliver 80 ppm of zinc. Within the overall volume of a complete mix, trace minerals represent a very small portion of the feed. Using the example above, the actual amount of trace mineral added per ton of complete feed would vary from a low of .11 kgs to a high of .67 kgs (.011-.067% of the total mix) based on the trace mineral form selected. Care must be taken to ensure that required trace minerals are being properly selected and accurately weighed within the premix/complete feed.

Figure 2. Zinc solubility

3. Mixing and sampling: Ensuring uniform mixing of trace minerals within a premix or complete feed is essential. A broiler for example that is fed up to 42 days of age with a diet containing 80 mg/kg of Zn will consume less than 0.5g of Zn during its lifetime. It is therefore critical that the minerals are properly mixed into the diets. Particle size, particle size consistency, hygroscopicity, reactivity, and bulk density can influence mineral mixability. To assure proper mixing, a trace mineral product should contain particles that are ideally 150–250 microns in size with very little variation. This is critical to achieving a uniform mix and for maintaining trace mineral positional stability in final packaging. If particle size varies widely, smaller particles will segregate and move to the top or bottom of the package (bulk density dependent) when vibration occurs, such as during transport. A selected trace mineral should not be hygroscopic, which can chemically attract moisture into the trace mineral product or complete feed causing clumping and or destruction of essential nutrients in the premix or complete feed. The timing of when trace minerals are added to the mixing sequence and/or the total mixing time can adversely affect uniform distribution throughout the final feed. Compounding this challenge is a lack of precision typically offered by laboratory analysis. Samples of a mineral’s inclusion can range by 10-20% depending on the trace metal being measured. A good practice when sampling trace minerals within a mix is to avoid the first and last 10-15% of product discharged from the mixer. Samples should be pulled from the middle portion of the mix and analyzed using wet chemistry protocols. To consistently achieve precise mixing, establish a defined protocol clearly specifying trace mineral selection and weighing criteria along with when the trace mineral(s) is sequenced within the mixing process and mixing time.

Evaluating the four trace mineral considerations described above can help poultry producers capture the full investment of their precision nutrition strategy.

To help producers mitigate the effects of the challenges described above and support both animal performance and producer economics, Selko developed IntelliOpt — a cost-effective solution to achieve a higher level of precision trace mineral nutrition in premixes and complete feeds. The IntelliOpt product portfolio offers producers, pre-mixers, and compounders a species-specific blend of IntelliBond and Optimin, precisely formulated to deliver optimal animal performance.

All IntelliOpt blends are formulated based on the knowledge and insights of leading industry groups and academic professionals with a keen eye on ensuring optimized animal productivity and well-being. Individual blends are manufactured by Selko to ensure that all critical nutrients are present in the right form and amount to support trace metal availability to animals.

The selection of a trace mineral source is an important decision to support productivity and health. However, knowing how that source was added and mixed, along with its impact on other essential nutrients in the feed, are equally important parts of an effective precision nutrition strategy. Ultimately, the best trace mineral source is of little value if it is not consistently delivered in the correct amount and form required for peak animal performance and health.

About Gavin Boerboom
Gavin Boerboom received the master’s degree in health food innovation management from Maastricht University in 2016. In 2016 he started working at Nutreco where he combined a full-time researcher job with a PhD position on trace mineral nutrition at Wageningen University. After finishing his PhD, Gavin now holds his current position as a technical commercial manager at Selko, the feed additive brand of Nutreco. In this position he supports primarily the North American and European mineral portfolio of Selko, with his expertise on trace mineral nutrition, experimental designs and monogastric nutrition.