Don’t just wing it: Managing vitamin stability in low-inclusion poultry premixes
Vitamins are essential micronutrients required in all poultry diets, with each vitamin playing a critical role in the bird’s overall health and performance. As such, it is important to manage low-inclusion premixes to conserve vitamin stability and maintain efficacy.
Vitamin class and quality
All vitamins are crucial for normal biological function. Vitamins fall into two classes: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins (including vitamins A, D, E and K) are absorbed and stored in fatty tissues of the body. These fat-soluble vitamins are critical for vision, mucous tissue integrity, immunity and blood coagulation, as well as calcium and phosphorus metabolism. Alternatively, water-soluble vitamins (including vitamins C, B-complex and choline) are not stored within the body. Water-soluble vitamins metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and they also contribute to the integrity of skin and ligaments, bone calcification and hormone synthesis.
Several physical and chemical factors — including exposure to oxygen, pressure, friction, temperature, humidity, light, pH and redox reactions — can decrease vitamin stability, which will negatively affect bird performance. Pelleting, for example, involves friction, pressure, heat and humidity, which can expose vitamins to adverse chemical environments and compromise the vitamin’s stability. Choline chloride is particularly harsh for vitamins because of its hygroscopic and alkaline properties, so separate choline chloride from vitamin premixes whenever possible.
Maintaining an awareness of the storage conditions and of the overall product composition is important. The ideal conditions will be different for each vitamin. For example, vitamins B1 and B6 are more stable in acidic environments, whereas pantothenic and folic acids are more stable in alkaline environments. Vitamin B12 is sensitive to several environmental factors, including strong acids, alkali conditions and light. Providing vitamin premixes with ideal conditions but storing them alongside trace minerals can also compromise their stability. Copper, zinc and iron are the most reactive toward vitamins, while manganese and selenium tend to be the least reactive trace minerals. The form of the trace mineral can also influence its reactivity toward vitamins; sulfates and carbonates are the most reactive, while oxides and chelated trace mineral forms are the least reactive. Therefore, formulating vitamin premixes in combination with chelated trace minerals will aid in prolonging vitamin stability.
Proper management techniques are critical for maintaining vitamin potency and stability. If possible, store trace minerals and vitamins separately in the initial manufacturing facilities. When combining vitamins and trace minerals in premixes, consider utilizing chelated trace minerals. Additionally, reduce the overall storage time of premixes as well as complete feed. Ensure the use of proper storage containers that minimize light and oxygen penetration. Climate-controlled storage will also reduce the risk of exposing vitamins to high environmental temperatures and humidity. Implementing these management strategies can help to ensure that we are feeding optimal-quality vitamins, which will only serve to enhance overall bird health and performance.