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Q2 Poultry Newsletter

Novus International Green Acres Research Farm

Green Acres is a 95-acre multi-species, multi-functional research facility operated by Novus International, Inc.

Pivotal to Performance:
Trace Mineral Supplementation for Breeder Hen Performance

By Bob Buresh, PhD
Executive Manager, North America Technical Services, Novus International, Inc.

Genetic selection has dramatically improved the performance of commercial broilers and breeder hens, which has increased the overall demand for optimal nutrition. Consequently, nutritionists play a major role in ensuring the health and productivity of the flock and have a direct impact on egg and chick quality. It has been demonstrated that trace minerals zinc, copper and manganese are essential to ensure peak performance of the animal.

These trace minerals function both as enzyme cofactors as well as constituents of metalloenzymes. Zinc is a constituent or activator of hundreds of enzymes and is essential for many aspects of growth and DNA synthesis. Zinc also plays an integral role in the synthesis of two important functional proteins, collagen and keratin. These proteins have a large impact in embryonic and post-hatch development. Collagen is the major structural protein of internal tissues, cartilage and bone. Keratin is the structural protein of feathers, skin, beak and claws. Zinc also influences chick development because of its effect on appetite, as both a deficiency or an excess of zinc is associated with anorexia.

Copper is essential for reproduction and embryonic development and plays an important role in the proper cross-linking of collagen and elastin. Manganese is also essential for optimal growth and fertility and is crucial for embryonic and post-hatch bone development of the growing chick.

Zinc, copper and manganese play a role, either individually or conjunctively, in supporting growth, production and maintenance of the structural integrity of tissues. Supplementing hens with a highly bioavailable chelated source of trace minerals will support not only the quality of eggs produced from breeder hens, but also hatching rate and progeny quality.

Increased bioavailability of trace minerals can translate into improved live performance, tissue development and integrity, as well as an enhanced immune response to vaccination which translates into improved growth and feed conversion. The increased bioavailability seen with chelated trace minerals is partially responsible for reduced antagonistic interaction with other dietary constituents in the gastrointestinal tract. The use of a chelated trace mineral source, such as MINTREX® chelated trace minerals, allows nutritionists to reduce the total trace mineral content of the feed, while still meeting the animal’s nutritional requirements and improving key production parameters.


Egg production, eggshell strength and hatchability

Research conducted with layer breeders in commercial conditions showed dramatic improvements in key production parameters for hens fed MINTREX, compared to breeders supplemented with inorganic trace mineral (ITM) sources. In one study, a 4.1 percent increase in total hen-housed egg production and a 4.9 percent increase in hen-housed hatchability resulted from the inclusion of MINTREX in the diet compared to ITM sources of zinc, copper and manganese (Figure 1). Additionally, a consistent improvement in eggshell strength was observed in those layer breeder hens fed MINTREX compared to the ITM treatments over the 80-week period of the trial (Figure 1).

As shown in the data, replacing standard ITMs with MINTREX at lower supplementation levels promotes improved performance and stronger eggshells over lay period, especially after 50 weeks of age when egg production and shell quality is known to decline.

After this preliminary research was done, additional research was conducted with 15,200 broiler breeders, which compared results from the inclusion of trace minerals as either MINTREX or a sulfate/oxide combination. For birds fed MINTREX, the percentage of embryos alive at 18 days was improved and hatching rate increased by 2 percent at 36 weeks of age (Figure 2).

Embryo development

It’s important to understand the importance of the continued development of embryos once outside the hen’s body. Mineral content in the egg yolk is crucial for optimal embryo development and progeny growth. In one research trial, the inorganic source of zinc, copper and manganese was replaced with the corresponding levels of MINTREX at a reduced level, and the mineral content of the egg yolks was measured (Table 1).

This trial demonstrated that feeding MINTREX compared to ITMs enhances the levels of trace minerals in embryonic tissues, while at the same time reducing the diet’s overall mineral content. Given the physiological impact of trace minerals on the immune system, antioxidant chemistry and collagen synthesis, it is reasonable to assume that chelated trace minerals can favor the resulting chick’s immunity development and improved livability. (Table 2).

Chick neonatal health and livability

The relationship between supplementation of trace minerals and chick immunity and livability can be further assessed by measuring the extent of bone mineralization in the day-old chick. In a trial conducted with broiler breeders, birds received four trace mineral treatments, differing in levels and sources of supplementation. Tibia and femur bone thickness was then measured in day-old chicks hatched from 33-week-old prime aged hens after 11 weeks on test diets (Figure 3).

By increasing the supply of ITMs no effect on bone development was observed; however, by adding a low concentration of MINTREX to the control ITM, a numerical increase in femur thickness occurred. Conversely, when a lower concentration of MINTREX was included in the diet as the sole source of zinc, copper, and manganese, there was a significant (P < 0.05) increase in both tibia and femur thickness, improving early chick skeletal development, allowing for improved chick viability.

To further support improved progeny growth performance by including MINTREX in the diet, a separate trial was conducted to examine its effects on the growth performance of 42-day old chicks from hens fed different sources of trace minerals. Male chicks were randomly selected and fed a common commercial ration containing either MINTREX or ITMs. Results of this study indicated feeding MINTREX to broiler breeders increased body weights, feed intake and feed conversion of progeny at 42 days of age (Table 3).


Trace minerals such as zinc, copper and manganese play an essential role in the health and productivity of the breeder bird. Research demonstrates that supplementing broiler breeder diets with MINTREX maximizes egg production and hatchability up to 80 weeks of age when compared to other inorganic mineral sources. Additionally, the inclusion of MINTREX in breeder diets supports increased mineral levels in the egg yolk, which then becomes available to the developing chick. As a result, the formation of key structural components, such as collagen and bone, is enhanced along with the viability of the hatched chick. This additional nutritional support helps the chick to fully reach its genetic performance potential. Because of MINTREX high bioavailability, these performance effects can be reached at lower dietary concentrations compared to inorganic sources, thus reducing environmental impact and increasing profitability of breeder operations.

Announcing MINTREX® Packaging Change

Novus is pleased to announce a packaging change for MINTREX Zn, MINTREX Cu and MINTREX Mn from the existing paper bag to a new polywoven bag. This change will not affect product prices or specifications but has been rolled out to increase bag quality, strength and longevity.

Product is now being bagged in the new polywoven bags in Little Rock, Arkansas, at our MINTREX plant. Expect to see the new bags in your warehouse over the next two months as inventory of product in the paper bags depletes at our warehouses.

We apologize if this causes any inconvenience but feel you will appreciate the new bag. If you have any questions about this packaging change, please contact your local Novus sales representative or our customer service team at 800-568-0088.

Novus Is With You When It Matters!

The Poultry Science Association Annual Conference was an exciting time for Novus! We had five different researchers come from headquarters to present research on multiple enzymes including xylanase, proteases, and phytase to enhance gut health as well as the utilization of copper for gut health performance in broilers. Some great discussions were held by our technical service and sales teams with customers and industry partners concerning antibiotic-free production and other future issues in the poultry industry. We celebrated Novus’s 25th Anniversary New Orleans style at The Chicory and everyone who attended received a Novus PSA New Orleans t-shirt in honor of our birthday! Our president and CEO, Mr. François Fraudeau, and other executive team members were able to join us in the celebration and shared a few words with everyone attending about our experience in and passion for the animal health industry as well as heartily extend our thanks to our many customers. The Novus crew thanks YOU, our customers, for 25 years of business and is looking forward to continuing our business partnership for the next 25 years and beyond. We hope to see you next year in Orlando, Florida!

Getting to Know Pat Welch

PatDr. Pat Welch is responsible for the management of technical support of primarily poultry team members and independent agents throughout the US. As a liaison among Novus sales, marketing and research teams, he helps train sales staff, develops technical marketing materials and is involved with product development.

Pat started his career in the poultry industry as a researcher at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University; he then left the school to become quality control and lab manager for B.C. Rogers (now Koch Foods). He was active as a poultry consultant in the United States and Central America and has worked for Kemin Industries and Mountaire Vitamins in technical manager roles, and as corporate nutritionist for Sanderson Farms.

More recently, Pat served as a senior poultry specialist for General Chemical’s poultry sales group, with sales responsibilities in the southeast United States, and technical services responsibilities nationwide. His scientific interest has centered on disease management and animal nutrition. He is a past president of the Southern Poultry Science Society and is a charter member of the American College of Animal Nutritionists. He has presented at national scientific meetings and published several peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of Poultry Science.

Pat earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Microbiology from Mississippi State University, and his doctorate in Nutrition and Biochemistry from Mississippi State University with his dissertation on electrolyte interactions in the broiler diet. He also is a veteran of the United States Army, having served in the U.S. Medical Veterinary Corps as a food inspector and clinical technician during the Vietnam War.