New Poultry Optimum Vitamin Nutrition (OVN) Guidelines 2022

Vitamins represent about 1% of feed costs in broiler feeds, yet, take no back seat to ensure optimal growth, ideal health status, feed efficiency and reproductive function. Naturally occurring vitamins in ingredients vary considerably in concentration and bioavailability. Seldom are levels able to meet nutritional requirements.

Vitamins serve an array of functions (Table 1) and under commercial conditions, classical vitamin deficiencies (Table 2) are seldom observed because subtle shortages of vitamins is common. This translates into low target weights, 1-2 point losses in FCR, or egg production that lingers slightly below expectations. These losses are difficult to distinguish from poor management, intestinal disruptions, and stress-related factors. Vitamin shortages during disease challenge can exacerbate losses because the bird is less capable of coping with the challenge.

Over the past 70 years, our Optimum Vitamin Nutrition® (OVN) aims to feed animals with high quality vitamins, produced with the lowest environmental footprint, in the right amounts, appropriate to their life stage and growing conditions to optimize: animal health and welfare, animal performance, and food quality and food waste. OVN levels compensate for the many factors which can influence the bird’s requirements and corresponding feed levels, thus ensuring that vitamin fortification does not limit performance. They are based on extensive university and industry research, published requirements and practical experience.

The OVN Concept can be categorized into four sections. The first, a deficient level which indicates feeding vitamin levels below the NRC recommendations. This puts animals at risk of developing clinical deficiency signs and disorders. The next category can be described as the sub-optimum level which indicates feedings levels above the NRC leading to the prevention of clinical deficiency signs and disorders but still inadequate to achieve optimum health and productivity. The third category is the OVN guidelines, these are vitamin levels that support good health, productivity, food quality and nutritional value. In special applications, feeding beyond the OVN guidelines can help optimize certain attributes such as immunity, bone health, and vitamin enriched food.

When we compare the 2022 dsm-firmenich OVN guidelines for poultry (Table 3), to the 2016 OVN guidelines, we see about a 5 – 6% increase for most vitamins, primarily to reflect the reduced feed intake to reach target weights. The recommendations for breeding hens generally reflect higher productivity for several variables as reported by breeder companies (such as +5-7% hatchability, +3-4% more chicks/hen housed, 1-3% improved peak production, and +4-7% improvement in FCR). Breeders continue to be the focal point for profitability for commercial operations.

The difference between the 2016 and 2022 guidelines are not surprising as vitamin requirements can be very dynamic. Nutritionists decide on the fortification rates based on a variety of criteria – bird age, production phase, field experience, research trials, and so forth. The rapid change in broiler genetics is the biggest factor that affects long-term fortification levels. Broiler growth rates have climbed 3-4% every year with less feed being consumed/lb live gain (Zuidhof et al., 2014). To this end, the feed conversion ratio (FCR) improved by nearly 2 points/year over the past 10 years (NCC, 2021; Agri Stats, 2022). The days required to attain a 5.1 lb slaughter weight have declined from 52 days 1995 to 40 days today (Agri Stats, 2022), which reduces the time to correct missteps in nutrition, management, or health programs. Faster growing strains generally experience more mortality and meat disorders, bone deformities, and contact dermatitis, as opposed to slow-growth strains. The boost in skeleton and body weight impact vitamin fortification requirements (Jiang et al., 2011; Mejia et al., 2014). Yet, commercial fortification levels did not change appreciably from 1993 to 2012 (Ward, 2012).

In summary, vitamin fortification rates should be adjusted to correspond with progress or changes made in broiler genetics. The costliest vitamin shortages are those that are marginal when insufficiency effects are less apparent. The 2022 dsm-firmenich OVN Vitamin Guidelines for broilers provide a range to account for various commercial conditions and to offset improvements in feed conversion ratio.

Table 1: Functions of Individual Vitamins

VitaminPrimary Function
Vitamin AVision, reproduction, membranes, bone development, hatchability, ataxia and weakness, ruffled feathers
Vitamin DBone development (P, Ca absorption), immune function
Vitamin EAntioxidant, cell membrane integrity, immune function, reduced platelet aggregation (blood clotting)
MenadioneBlood clotting, bone mineralization
NiacinEnergy production, and carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, nerve function
ThiaminEnergy production, and carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism 
RiboflavinEnergy production, and carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism
PyridoxineEnergy production, and carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism
Vitamin B12Energy metabolism
Pantothenic acidCarbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, glucose metabolism
Folic acidAmino acid and energy metabolism, protein synthesis, immunity
BiotinRelated to methionine, choline and folacin metabolism, and fat and carbohydrate metabolism

Table 2: Deficiency Symptoms of Individual Vitamins

VitaminPrimary Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin AEye lesions, muscle incoordination, lower disease resistance
Vitamin DRickets, cartilage malformation, lameness, poor growth
Vitamin EExudative diathesis, encephalomalacia, edema, reduced hatch
MenadioneImpaired blood coagulation, hemorrhages on breast, legs & abdominal cavity, anemia
NiacinMetabolic skin & digestive organ disorders, weakness, low growth
ThiaminLack of appetite, neurological disorders, leg weakness, stargazing 
RiboflavinLowered growth & feed intake; skin, eye & nerve disorders; impaired walking & vigor
PyridoxineDermatitis, poor growth, anemia, poor feathering, nerve disorders
Vitamin B12Anemia, lowered feed intake, efficiency & growth, perosis
Pantothenic acidNerve and skin disorders, edema and hemorrhages, dermatitis
Folic acidBlood disorders, anemic, lethargic, poor feathering, perosis
BiotinFootpad dermatitis, nerve disorders, low performance, leg disorders

Table 3: 2022 dsm-firmenich Optimum Vitamin Nutrition® (OVN) guidelines for poultry

The 2022 dsm-firmenich OVN guidelines for poultry can found here.


  • Agri Stats, Inc. Fort Wayne IN.
  • Jiang, R.R., G.P. Zhao, J.L. Chen, M. Q. Zheng, J.P. Zhao, P. Li, J. Hu and J. Wen. 2011. Effect of dietary supplemental nicotinic acid on growth performance, carcass characteristics and meat quality in three genotypes of chicken. J. Anim. Physiol. Anim. Nutr. 95:137-145.
  • Mejia, L., B. Turner, N. Ward, D. Burnham, and M. DeBeer. 2014. Evaluating the effects of feeding OVN and US industry fed vitamin levels on growth performance, processing yields and profitability. T140. IPSF, Atlanta GA.
  • National Chicken Council, Washington D.C.
  • Ward, N.E. 2022. Broiler Vitamin Nutrition Guidelines. Arkansas Nutrition Conf., Rogers AR. Sept 13-15.
  • Ward, N.E. 2012. Vitamin Requirements and Economic Responses. Multi-State Poultry Conf., Indianapolis IN. May 22-24.
  • Zuidhof, M.J., B. L. Schneider, V. L. Carney, D. R. Korver, F. E. Robinson. 2017. Growth, efficiency, and yield of commercial broilers from 1957, 1978, and 2005. Poult. Sci. 93(12):2970-2982. doi: 10.3382/ps.2014-04291.

Published on

17 October 2022


  • Poultry
  • Vitamins


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