The Quality and Quantity of Chicks Depends on Breeder Nutrition

Maintaining high performance of a broiler breeder flock is essential to the profitability of a breeder operation “ even amidst common and unprecedented challenges like disease, global pandemics and skyrocketing costs. Above all, increasing the number of grade A quality chicks produced is the key objective. This has never been more important than now as producers work to achieve and maintain normal flock numbers.

However, the high performance we strive for can only be obtained when all aspects of production are managed well. Flock health and management, hatchery management and feeding and nutrition programs must meet the high standards of genetic strains.


Three Key Challenges Impacting Breeder Production and Progeny

An area of nutrition that is often overlooked is trace mineral nutrition, and how the specific quality and source of these essential ingredients will improve trace mineral status, decrease mineral excretion and improve animal performance. Providing proven and effective trace mineral nutrition coupled with the right tools and a trusted partner will help breeder producers face and overcome key challenges including:

  • Egg production and eggshell quality
  • Chick production and quality
  • Immunity and vaccine efficiency

The Difference Starts with Research-Proven Nutrition, Solutions and Tools

To deliver outstanding progeny, there are many areas that must be carefully considered. When you are taking a holistic look at improving your operation, these are three key areas of improvement to take into consideration.

Nutrition, Solutions and Tools 

When you invest in nutrition that is proven to work in the field, you can overcome the key challenges we mentioned earlier, egg production and eggshell quality and chick production and quality.

Egg production and eggshell quality 

Reaching top performance in egg production and maintaining a good eggshell quality throughout the whole production cycle are difficult challenges to overcome to the modern breeder.

Zinc, manganese and copper play roles in the formation of the eggshell:

  • Zinc is a component of the keratinase enzyme, which is necessary for the formation of the eggshell membrane. Zinc is also required for carbonic anhydrase enzyme activation, which is required for the formation of the shell™s calcium carbonate.
  • Manganese affects collagen metabolism for eggshell membrane formation and the formation of a strong shell matrix.
  • Copper is necessary for eggshell collagen membrane fibers™ formation via the copper-containing enzyme lysyl oxidase.

Research shows that diets supplemented with Zinpro Performance Minerals to broiler breeders and commercial layers have a decrease in cracked eggs with a proportional increase in hatching eggs for broiler breeders and an increase in saleable egg proportion for commercial layers. When looking at the factors that decrease the number of broken eggs, researchers observed improvements in eggshell percentage, weight, thickness and strength when hens were fed Zinpro Performance Minerals, increasing the egg utilization.

Once you™ve invested in the nutrition to improve eggshell quality, it™s important to measure the progress you™ve made. The Zinpro® BlueBoxâ„¢ is a tool that evaluates eggshell quality through its light translucency scores. This tool identifies further areas of improvement especially in mineral nutrition to build resistant eggshells to avoid breakage losses, and the same time supporting the best conditions for the embryo development during incubation, yielding grade A quality chicks.

Chick production and quality 

Uniformity, health, livability, size and adequate maternal immunity are traits producers want in broiler chicks. The degree of development that the embryo/chick has achieved at the time of hatch is important for survival, growth potential and capacity to compete for feed and water. So, improving mineral status in the egg will support the complete development of the embryo, reduce embryonic mortality and greatly support the chick vitality in its early stages of life.

Hatchability and embryo livability are also critical components that influence chick quality. Several research studies looked at the effects on hatchability when supplementing Zinpro Performance Minerals to broiler breeder, where we see improvements from 1% to 7% in the hatchability values when compared to the control, being inorganic or any other form of organic trace minerals. That effect is achieved by improving fertility and significantly decreasing embryo mortality during the incubation process. During the embryo mortality diagnosis, 15% to 20% lower embryo mortalities were observed in flocks fed Zinpro Performance Minerals compared to the control, especially on early and late embryonic mortalities “ meaning more availability of nutrients to the embryo and higher survival rates during incubation.

Additionally, the positive effect of Zinpro Performance Minerals is not only reflected on quality of the progeny chicks at hatch, but through their life until their broilers market weight.

Animal Health and Wellbeing

Broiler breeders are constantly stressed by disease challenges in poultry operations. For this reason, several vaccinations are administered to improve their immune system and to enable them to transfer maternal antibodies to the progeny. When fed a diet formulated with Zinpro Performance Minerals, this can enhance breeder immune response and vaccine titters, positively impacting uniformity, livability and performance of the flock, protecting the progeny by passive transfer of the maternal antibodies.

We also need to prioritise the health and status of epithelial tissue. Epithelial tissue is the first mode of defence, as the skin and the lining of the digestive system are the major surfaces exposed to foreign organisms and diseases. Respiratory and reproductive epithelial tissues are also important to protect against frequent infectious challenges that can impact production and welfare. The Zinpro® First Line of Defense® Program was specifically designed to target and enhance the epithelial tissue, improving birds™ immunity and giving them a better chance to naturally fight off disease.

Additionally, Zinpro has been shown to improve other key areas of immunity including humoral, cellular and maternal, all which impact the health and quality of chicks produced.

Animal Welfare

Poultry genetic improvements reflected in broiler feed efficiency are pressuring breeders to respectively be more efficient and productive. This risks welfare repercussions in skin quality, footpad integrity, feathering status and pecking behaviour, bone quality and lameness issues, among others. Our industry is also challenged by low quality and/or litter floor eggs that end up being incubated due to the shortage of hatching eggs. This puts embryos and chicks at risk of being infected with bacteria like Enterococcus and Staphylococcus, leading to high 7-day chick mortality and culls. The utilisation of Zinpro Performance Minerals in breeder diets improves all those variables mentioned, supporting elevated welfare standards, natural behaviour and desired performance for both breeders and their progeny.