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Trace Mineral Supplements like Zn, Cu, and Mn Boost Development of Chick Embryo Skeleton

3 minute read

In today’s poultry industry, there is a shortage of chicks in the market. This has put pressure on producers to increase the number of robust chicks they are producing for their flocks to meet the global consumer demand. 

Some of the biggest contributors to hindered profitability on poultry operations are unhatched eggs or chicks that are not robust when they hatch. This can lead to fewer birds getting to the processing facility or birds getting to the processing facility with lower carcass weights.  

There are many factors that contribute to producing a robust day-old chick. But few are as important as the development of a strong skeleton.  

Importance of Supporting Chick Development for Strong Day-Old Chicks

First of all, we have hypothesized that strong bones are essential for a bird’s ability to hatch. If they have to work too hard to break through the eggshell and pull themselves out, they may begin their first day with a more advanced nutrient deficiency due to utilizing all of the embryonic nutrients available. This puts their early-life development at a disadvantage. 

Second, chickens are precocious, meaning they can walk on their own and feed themselves on day one. They never rely on their mothers to feed them like some other birds and animals do.  

This is why we need to ensure that the skeleton is properly formed and sufficiently calcified while the chick is still an embryo. Let’s look at how the process works and how you can contribute to a robust day-old chick by providing optimal nutrition to your breeders.  

Organic Trace Mineral Supplements Produce the Skeletal Matrix During Chick Development

The first sign of a skeleton in the life of a chick happens within the first seven days of the development of the embryo. During this time, zinc, copper and manganese come together to form the collagen-based organic matrix.  

At this stage, the skeleton is soft and almost like gelatin. Over the next 14 days, the bones will need to be enriched with calcium to become strong enough for them to hatch and start eating right as they are placed in the barn.  

For the skeleton to become calcified, the embryos will need to absorb calcium from the eggshell and this is where nature takes over. The egg contains a zinc-dependent enzyme that releases calcium from the eggshell.  

The calcium reaches the bone and combines with phosphorus consumed from the yolk. It mineralizes the pre-formed, collagen-based matrix, making it hard and strong so the chick can hatch and start thriving. 

Zinpro Performance Minerals Improve Production, Starting with Chick Embryo Development

Zinc, manganese and copper are all necessary for the process of forming and calcifying the skeleton in the egg. By feeding Zinpro Performance Minerals® to breeders, you can improve several production parameters. 

Overall, supplementing breeder diets with performance trace minerals from Availa® ZMC on top of inorganic sources improved chicks per hen housed by 4.6% compared to inorganic sources alone. We also saw a 2% improvement in hatchability and a 17% reduction in early embryo mortality when breeders were fed diets containing Availa ZMC.  

Download: Availa® ZMC Improves Performance of Broiler Breeders 

How do we achieve these improvements? It starts with embryonic calcification! Birds hatched from breeders that were fed Availa ZMC experienced a 1% increase in bone mineralization at hatch compared to birds fed inorganic sources of the same minerals.  

By improving embryonic calcification and developing a strong skeleton before birds even hatch, you can produce more robust day-old chicks and ensure a lifetime of high performance.  

To learn how you can start including Availa ZMC in your breeder nutrition program contact a Zinpro representative today.