Animal production industries are increasingly looking for ways to provide sustainable meat, eggs and dairy products. This creates new challenges and opportunities: supporting animal health and welfare while reducing the carbon footprint, improving production efficiency and reducing antibiotic use, and ultimately improving overall quality while remaining economically competitive.
Minerals such as copper (Cu), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and manganese (Mn) are essential micronutrients. They not only support the growth of the animal, but are also necessary for fertility, immunity and overall health.
In commercial diets, minerals are often supplemented in inorganic form. This is an easy choice as high levels of supplements are allowed and are usually inexpensive. Due to its limited bioavailability, higher doses are required to meet the requirements. This often results in unbalanced nutrients and environmental pollution.
Supplementation with more bioavailable organic microminerals can offer a better solution to support sustainability, as this choice makes sense to all stakeholders along the feed production chain to the final consumer.
SUSTAINABILITY IN THE PRODUCTION CHAIN
In the production of premixes, organic microminerals are a guarantee of safety for workers’ health. Inorganic minerals are usually very fine particles that can cause damage to the lungs if unwashed. With larger particle sizes, Pancosma glycinates are safer to use due to the absence of dust.
As food is by far the most costly component in livestock systems, it is important to ensure that diets are formulated with an optimal cost-benefit ratio. Therefore, minerals that do not have adequate return on investment are the most expensive, regardless of cost.
Studies suggest that the binding of Cu, Zn, Fe and Mn with amino acids and peptides may increase the bioavailability of these minerals. This leads to better overall performances, such as:
Improved milk production,
Overall health status in animals.
In addition, this enhanced bioavailability allows a reduction of up to 50% of dietary mineral supplementation to be achieved while maintaining performance. Therefore, we can expect animals to easily reach their genetic potential, minimizing supplementation and excretion of minerals. Although, minerals do not directly affect quality parameters, they can still influence them.
Iron influences the color of beef. Copper, Zinc and Manganese are part of the antioxidant system and are important for cellular integrity (especially after slaughter to limit drip loss).
In the dairy industry, a lower somatic cell count was established with the use of organic Zn (Wall et al, 2016), resulting in higher milk production. However, given the basic physiological needs, essential microminerals can play a role in reducing the susceptibility of diseases related to disabilities and, therefore, contributing to animal welfare.
Finally, microminerals accumulate in tissues, as established by the United Nations health program (FAO, 2001. Human Needs of Vitamins and Minerals – report of a consultation of experts from FAO/WHO. Bangkok, Thailand.). The accumulation of micro minerals in meat products meets the special needs of the population.
REDUCING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Due to high supplementation, the elements concentrated in manure accumulate in the soil and may present medium or long-term toxicity risk to plants and microorganisms. For example, Zn will reach a concentration of about 200 ppm in 120 years, provided that its excretion is not reduced.
Soil activity and microbial mass are adversely affected with even lower concentrations of Cu and Zn (30 to 50 and from 100 to 200 ppm, respectively) (Jondreville et al., 2003). Reducing the level of micromineral supplementation is a key issue to extend this time frame and minimize the environmental impact.
Organic minerals have been designed to reduce antagonistic relationships in the gastrointestinal tract and therefore increase the bioavailability of microminerals. Studies comparing the bioavailability of glycinate to sulfate showed good results in favor of the organic source, maintaining animal performance.
In piglets, (Männer et al. in 2006) found an improvement of 31.1% in absorption capacity and in ruminants, (Spears et al., in 2004), found a bioavailability almost doubled in the presence of a strong antagonist. Consequently, less input means less output. Due to this higher absorption, it is now possible to reduce the dose of the supplement and even increase the performance of the animal.
As part of the feed industry, organic microminerals have many challenges to face. Finally, they play an important role in sustainability as they can help reduce environmental impact and produce better quality products. These attributes support public health standards for the final consumer, in addition to preserving the well-being of workers in the production process.
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