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Effect of Bis-Chelated Trace Minerals on Woody Breast

It is well understood that the goal of broiler live production teams is to deliver a high-quality, target-weight broiler to the processing plant. Up to the initiation of processing, there are considerable resources; financial, management and time that are committed by the company to accomplish this goal. One of the most tragic situations to occur is the condemnation or downgrading of either whole carcasses or carcass parts in the processing plant. There are a wide variety of causes for this condemnation and downgrading, ranging from field-caused health situations, management or mechanical issues within the plant.

In recent years, the condition known as woody breast has become more prevalent and captured the attention of producers, processors and customers. It is characterized by broiler breast meat quality issues displaying increasing levels of toughness, resulting in customer dissatisfaction. This affected breast meat is not typically condemned by the USDA plant inspectors but downgraded by quality assurance personnel in the plant. The meat is generally used for further-processed meat products of lesser value than the higher value boneless breast meat.

There is considerable research occurring globally to identify the potential causes and possible solutions to address this muscle myopathy. The possible causes have been hypothesized to be related to genetic line changes, bird size, rapid growth and oxidative stress within the breast muscle. Although there is no perfect solution, several interventions have surfaced that have shown consistent breast quality improvement.

Research trials were conducted investigating the impact of feeding MINTREX® bis-chelated trace minerals to reduce the severity of woody breast in broilers. MINTREX® has a defined and consistent bis-chelated structure, which give a high degree of protection to the mineral and provides stability in the digestive tract while minimizing reactions with antagonists.

MINTREX® provides both increased mineral availability and a source of methionine activity in one product. In four woody breast trials (Figure 1) (Novus Field Trial FV2014-0022, Wedekind et al., 2016, Chen et al., 2017, Manangi et al., 2017), supplemental levels of zinc or copper were fed to broilers in the form of MINTREX® bis-chelated trace minerals, with some trials including an antioxidant in the feed.

The summary of these trials can be seen in Figure 1 indicating that in all four trials, MINTREX® bis-chelated trace minerals reduced the incidence of severe woody breast scores (Scores 2-3) by 44% compared to typical inorganic trace mineral rations. While not improving the condition fully, the reduction in severe woody breast scores was significant in all four trials.

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The estimated losses to the US poultry industry are expected to exceed $200 million annually due to condemnations and downgrades of breast meat with this condition. These trials demonstrated a consistent reduction following the inclusion of MINTREX® bis-chelated trace minerals and would result in a positive return on investment for the producer and processor.

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