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Chelates Offer Layer Industry Improved Shell Quality, Immune Response

Chelates Offer Layer Industry Improved Shell Quality, Immune Response
Megharaja Manangi, PhD, Research Scientist, Poultry Nutrition, Novus International

Amid an evolving layer industry, eggshell quality remains a key aspect of successful egg production. Broken and cracked eggs represent a significant loss to the industry and to the individual producer, and these effects become even more significant as hens age.

In highly productive birds, demineralization of the structural bone can result in increased osteoporosis and bone fractures, which are also more prevalent at the end of lay. There are key trace elements, including zinc, copper and manganese, which are essential for shell formation.  

  • Zinc deficiencies in layers include decreased egg production and eggshell quality
  • Manganese-deficient hens produce eggs with thinner shells
  • Copper deficiency results in eggshell deformities

Feeding trace elements has traditionally been achieved through the use of inorganic trace minerals fed in excess of the levels recommended. This is done because of the lack of availability and uptake from inorganic trace mineral sources, and trying to ensure an adequate supply reaches the animal’s tissues.

Now there is pressure to reduce the dietary content of specific trace minerals, focusing attention on the use of more bioavailable sources of these key nutrients. Chelated trace minerals are a solution, as they offer greater bioavailability. Studies show that the bioavailability of MINTREX® Zn is between 160 percent and 250 percent that of inorganic zinc sulfate, so diet requirements can be met at lower inclusion rates.

A new study from Novus International investigated the impact of long-term use of MINTREX® Zn, Cu and Mn compared to inorganic trace minerals on layer performance, eggshell quality, tibia breaking strength and immune response. Laying hens were allocated to six treatments with supplemental zinc, copper and manganese.

Results indicated a significant treatment effect for shell thickness. Hens fed either no supplemental trace minerals or lower levels of supplemental inorganic trace minerals had lower shell thickness when compared to high levels of sulfates. Analysis showed an improvement in shell breaking strength, shell thickness, tibia breaking strength and antibody titers to SRBCs in hens fed MINTREX® when compared to inorganic trace minerals.

To summarize, feeding laying hens’ diets containing MINTREX® chelated trace minerals showed improvements in eggshell thickness and immune response when compared to inorganic salts later in the laying cycle.

For the full journal article, click here