What’s fighting your phytase?

There are many schools of thought on the relative value of an inorganic source of mineral versus an organic source of mineral.
calendar icon 3 January 2019
clock icon 3 minute read
Author Dr. Brad Laurence, Senior Technical Service Manager at Novus International
Author Dr. Brad Laurence, Senior Technical Service Manager at Novus International

Novus International Tech Tip

In an inorganic source, the metal is linked with an inorganic element (i.e.: sulfate, chloride, oxide), which varies in bond strength. Inorganic trace minerals (ITMs) are often known to be antagonistic within the diet by attaching themselves to diet components like phytic acid, rendering both the inorganic mineral supplemented and the phosphorus bound to the phytate molecule unusable to the animal.

Producers typically supplement phytase to enhance phosphorus release from ingredients making it more available to the animal. However, phytate has a high affinity for the metal anions from ITM supplementation. As a result, before phytase has a chance to have an effect on phytate, mineralphytate complexes have been formed limiting phytase effectiveness for phosphorus liberation (Peng and Applegate, 2006). In other words, use of high levels of ITM fight against phytase effectiveness. Adding more ITMs on top of the diet to offset these antagonists is popular due to the perceived relative lower cost of ITMs versus more available chelated mineral sources. However, over-formulating total trace mineral levels arises from this strategy. Choosing a high quality chelated organic trace mineral (OTM) source allows for lower trace mineral inclusion and less mineral excretion.

In OTMs, the mineral is bound to an organic ligand through coordinate covalent bonds. The term “organic” indicates the presence of carbon atoms in the ligand. The strength of these bonds and pH at which they dissociate varies between different types of OTMs. Chelate minerals are considered the most bioavailable trace mineral source on the market. In chelates, the organic ligand is bound to the mineral by coordinate covalent bonds that protect against early dissociation and antagonisms. By supplementing a highly bioavailable chelated trace mineral, producers can expect the added phytase to be more effective and, in turn, provide more phosphorus to the diet. Efficiently feeding pigs for optimal growth, better feed efficiency and lower mortality is essential for economic return, so feeding a highly bioavailable mineral is imperative.

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