Bioplex® minerals: Meeting layers’ needs and reducing emissions
Are eggs a superfood?
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods readily available to humans. Layer producers perform an essential role in meeting the increasing global demand for animal protein by providing this nutrient-dense food source. Along with their high-quality protein, eggs are also high in minerals and vitamins including iodine, selenium, and vitamins D, B2 and B12 (www.egginfo.co.uk, n.d.).
However, the increased demand for protein comes with increased awareness of climate change and the impact of agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions.
Producing more protein from less
Global warming is proceeding at such a rate that it is undeniable that human activities have produced gases that are trapping the sun’s energy, leading to more intense weather events, reducing biodiversity and disrupting humans’ current way of life. Therefore, as the poultry industry works to meet the increasing global demand for animal protein, it needs to simultaneously reduce its impact on the environment.
65–75% of the carbon footprint of a hen layer production system comes from feed; therefore, effective poultry nutrition plays an essential part in decreasing carbon emissions. By using innovation and technology to improve feed utilization, we can enable laying hens to use less feed to achieve the same output, improving both environmental and economic sustainability. One of these solutions in laying hen diets is the use of Alltech’s organic trace minerals (Bioplex® Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn), which have been developed to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of egg production.
For optimal poultry nutrition, not all mineral forms are the same
Historically, inorganic sources of trace minerals have been used in poultry diets to meet the hen’s requirements for minerals to maintain normal bodily functions and egg production. However, inorganic trace minerals are frequently over-formulated to compensate for their low bioavailability, uptake and utilization. This over-supplementation of inorganic trace minerals can have several negative effects, as they are reactive in the premix and gastrointestinal tract, resulting in low bioavailability. Furthermore, inorganic minerals can interfere with enzymes and other minerals, reduce the efficacy of vitamins and act as pro-oxidants.
The high bioavailability of Bioplex
Alltech’s Bioplex minerals are bound organically to amino acids and a range of peptides, creating a proteinate structure in which the trace element is protected. This helps the mineral reach the site of absorption without reacting with dietary components. Therefore, Bioplex minerals are more stable and bioavailable than inorganic trace minerals and can be fed at lower levels of inclusion with less mineral excreted. As Bioplex minerals are less reactive, the negative interactions that would be present when using inorganic minerals are avoided, allowing for better performance and eggshell strength.
This has recently been documented in a meta-analysis (Byrne et al. 2023) that used data from 32 studies performed using more than 30,000 hens. The paper’s objective was to examine the impact of Bioplex Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn on the production performance and egg quality attributes of laying hens when compared to inorganic minerals.
Meta-analysis results showed that laying hen performance was significantly improved by Bioplex.
Meta-analysis results showed that improving layer production and egg quality can be translated to lower environmental impacts from with Bioplex mineral supplementation.
Total emission intensity per kg of eggs was lowered by 2.5% in both high- and low-global-warming-potential (GWP) diets.
Feeding of Bioplex minerals translated to a reduction of 1,040 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) for every 1,000,000 hens placed. This is a savings equivalent to:
- 680 fewer cars on the road, or
- electricity used by 700 houses, or
- 1,210 intercontinental return flights
In layer production, economic and environmental sustainability are closely linked, meaning that feeding technologies that improve performance can deliver sustainability benefits that can be aligned with several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
With minerals being crucial for the growth and development of chickens due to their involvement in numerous physiological processes, choosing the most bioavailable forms is vital to optimizing health and performance. The results from the above-mentioned meta-analysis demonstrate improved performance parameters when using organic trace minerals, at a lower inclusion rate, in the form of Bioplex.
The life-cycle assessment (LCA) then showed that the correct form and inclusion level of mineral supplementation can enhance layer productivity, improve profitability, reduce carbon footprint and meet sustainability goals. With correct formulation, more cost-effective, environmentally sustainable feeds for poultry can be produced, resulting in a greater return on investment and a lower carbon footprint.
Byrne, L., S. Ross, J. Taylor-Pickard, et al. (2023). The Effect of Organic Trace Mineral Supplementation in the Form of Proteinates on Performance and Sustainability Parameters in Laying Hens: A Meta-Analysis. Animals: an open access journal from MDPI, 13(19), 3132.
www.egginfo.co.uk. (n.d.). Egg nutrition and health | Egg Recipes – British Lion Eggs. [online] Available at: https://www.egginfo.co.uk/egg-nutrition-and-health.
About the author:
Dr. Harriet Walker is the poultry specialist for the Alltech® Technology Group. Within this role she provides technical support to the sales force and supports and interprets poultry research activities, focusing on providing solutions to optimize animal performance and efficiency.
Before taking this role, Harriet worked in the industry as a poultry nutritionist, developing a solid nutritional and technical knowledge base. She has extensive experience in bird nutrition and management over various farm sizes and poultry types.
Harriet completed her Ph.D. at Nottingham Trent University in 2013, evaluating the gut health and performance of broilers when feeding supplements to reduce antibiotic use, elucidating their mode of action. She also studied animal science at the University of Nottingham, where she completed her third-year dissertation in poultry nutrition in 2009.