When faced with these challenges, producers may consider reducing vitamin safety margins as a cost control measure. However, while this practice may save on upfront feed costs, the health and performance of livestock and poultry may be at stake. Research indicates that animals – even when fed minimum recommended vitamin levels – can experience subacute vitamin deficiency when experiencing stress or disease.1 So, rather than reformulate, producers should consider how they can best preserve their vitamins in premixes and in feed.
Managing Vitamin Degradation in Premixes
Premixes often contain “reactive” ingredients – choline chloride and/or inorganic trace minerals – which can have an aggressive effect on vitamin susceptibility to destruction.2,3 Specifically, trace minerals – Fe, Cu, Zn, etc. – in a premix can participate in chemical reactions leading to formation of toxic molecules like free radicals and peroxides. Exposure to these toxic molecules increases vitamin susceptibility to oxidation – a key driver of vitamin loss in premixes as well as in feed.
To prevent or slow vitamin degradation, producers can choose to use more stable vitamin forms (i.e. esters, beadlets, spray-drying, etc.). However, even protected vitamins can become susceptible to destruction when stored under certain storage conditions, like high humidity (Figure 1).