Understanding the overlap in poultry nutrition and poultry health is essential for meeting current and future industry challenges like hatchability, first week mortality, disease management without antibiotics, reducing feed costs, and eliminating food waste. There is a growing focus on sustainable farming where our industry has a critical role in shaping a better world, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the United Nations.
Supporting poultry with appropriate vitamins can help make production more sustainable (SDG 12, 13), help get the world closer to zero hunger (SDG 2) and help achieve good health and well-being (SDG 3). Supplementing diets with the right levels of quality and sustainable vitamins will help poultry producers improve bird health, wellbeing, and performance, while also protecting the environment, succeeding in a dynamic and ever-changing global market, and enhancing both profits and environmental sustainability.
Vitamins are essential for the normal functioning of metabolic and physiological processes
Vitamins play a decisive role in both human and poultry nutrition. As organic catalysts present in small quantities in the majority of foods, they are essential for the normal functioning of metabolic and physiological processes. Vitamin requirements in animals are dynamic: they vary according to new genotypes, levels of yield and production systems. Inclusion of the appropriate levels of vitamins in an animal’s diet not only allows complete realization of its performance potential, but at the same time improves various aspects related to health and wellbeing, productivity and the ultimate quality of the food produced, be it meat or eggs. Healthier birds will produce more and healthier food.
OVN Optimum Vitamin Nutrition® is a dynamic concept which regularly reviews and updates vitamin supplementation in feed. OVN™ is about feeding animals 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, food quality and food waste.
Vitamin recommendations from a number of international scientific associations (such as the National Research Council (NRC), and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC)) were developed with the object of preventing nutritional deficiencies. Some of the studies their recommendations are based on are more than 20-30 years old. The poultry industry of today does not have much in common with the industry 30 years ago. Performance parameters such as bodyweight and feed conversion rate have improved up to 30% in the last 30 years (around 1-2 % per year).
It is logical to assume that nutrition programmes for commercial poultry production, including vitamin supplements, need to be adjusted in a manner consistent with improved management techniques and zootechnical performance.
Performance improvements of up to 30% have been made in the last 30 years, so it is logical to assume nutrition programmes need to be adjusted in a manner consistent with these improvements
This adjustment should be based ideally on the most recent scientific studies, while also considering practical experience from producers as well as nutritional recommendations from breeding companies.
Testing different levels of individual vitamins could be one way to define the optimal use of vitamins in feed. Recent dsm-firmenich OVN™ webinars and poultry events have reviewed experimental data extracted from more than 50 papers on individual vitamins published over the last 10 years (further information available through the authors). Some examples of this research are shown in Figures 1-4.
|Vit.D3 (IU/kg)||Average||25(OH)D3 (mg/ton)||Average|
We should not forget that vitamins are well known for their complementary catalytic roles in important metabolic processes with multiple interactions among them. This means that we might not see the full effect of increasing levels of individual vitamins if levels of other vitamins are a limiting factor. We need to better understand and quantify the effect of good levels of all vitamins in the same diet as it is unlikely that there is an additive effect of all the benefits seen in individual vitamin trials.
The latest nutritional recommendations from Aviagen for parent stock (2021) and broilers (2022) were developed in this way. They found relevant performance improvements, mainly in bodyweight and mortality of progeny, from breeders fed a vitamin booster when compared to offspring from breeders fed their previous vitamin recommendations (Figures 5-7).
A more recent study ( Gracia et al., 2022 PSA Latin American Scientific Conference) compared vitamin levels commonly used in Spain to the 2022 OVN™ broiler guidelines. Under the experimental conditions tested, the authors concluded that the supplementation of Ross 308 broiler diets with OVN™ 2022 vitamin levels:
Additionally, the cost-benefit calculation indicates that the return on investment, based on the experimental results and market prices at that time, was 3:1.
More information on the new 2022 OVN Optimum Vitamin Nutrition® Guidelines for Poultry is available here.
To meet the highest quality, nutritional, and legal requirements for animal feed production, premix producers and feed manufacturers need to handle additives safely and with great precision.
Vitamins are rarely added as pure substances to feed because they are often degraded due to instability towards oxygen, light or temperature. In some cases, they may not be suited to the rigors of the feed manufacturing processes, and in others, their handling properties may be poor.
Pure crystals of vitamins may look very attractive but in most cases are impossible to use in poultry unless they are properly formulated as feed additives and added into premix, feed or drinking water before the bird get access to them. It is important to ensure the right amount of each nutrient is delivered on a daily basis.
For maximum efficacy, feed additives like vitamins should be formulated for:
The final goal should be to achieve the best balance between handling, mixing, stability, and bioavailability factors depending on the specific application challenges.
Large overages (up to 100%) may be required to match the vitamin A nutritional requirements in poultry feed if unstable vitamin products are used, as demonstrated in the following trial.
An independent trial was conducted under practical pelleted feed industry conditions for pelleted feed.
(% vs. target in feed)
(% vs. target in feed)
(% vs. target in feed)
(% vs. target in feed)
vs. Rx A1000
ROVIMIX® A1000 proved to be much more stable than other vitamin A products.
Providing feed mills, integrators, and producers with the right levels of high-quality and sustainable micro-nutrients can help them improve bird health, wellbeing, and performance, while also protecting the environment, succeeding in a dynamic and ever-changing global market, and enhancing both profits and environmental sustainability.
dsm-firmenich, as part of their sustainability commitment, has developed Environmental Vitamin Product Declarations (EPD) which transparently provide environmental footprint information to support purchasing decisions and to help better assess the product sustainability of feed mills and producers. A comparison of CO2 savings depending on the vitamin product form and type of animal production can be seen in Figures 8a and b. This tool allows producers to calculate their carbon footprint in premixes and adjust their footprint using tailor made solutions.
Production programmes for poultry, including vitamin supplementation, need to be adjusted in a manner consistent with the updated management techniques and genetics improvements which have supported the feed industry in achieving annual productivity improvements of +1-2%.
Testing different levels of individual vitamins as well as combinations of all vitamins compared to the current vitamin blends used by the industry seem to be a consistent strategy used to review and adjust optimal use of vitamins in feed.
Once vitamin levels are defined, maximum attention must be paid to the use of the correct vitamin product forms. This would avoid jeopardizing decisions taken by nutritionists to optimize animal health and meat/egg production costs with products which might not be stable enough or mix properly in premix or feed.
Supporting poultry with appropriate vitamins helps make farming more sustainable. OVN Optimum Vitamin Nutrition® is about feeding animals high quality vitamins, produced with the lowest environmental footprint, in the right amounts, appropriate to the life stage and growing conditions of the bird, to optimize animal health and welfare, animal performance and food quality and food waste.
06 December 2022
José-María is a Spanish national holding a Degree in Veterinary Medicine and Masters in Exec-MBA and Marketing and Commercial Management.
Close to 35 years in the feed industry, he joined Roche-dsm-firmenich in 1989 and had different technical, commercial, and marketing positions in EMEA and Global (Poultry) Business and Category (Vitamins, Carotenoids) management in Spain, Switzerland as well as GM in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
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