Chelated Mineral Mixture and its Importance in Animal Feeding

Dr. Sagar Ashok Jadhav
Dr. Sagar Ashok Jadhav


  • Minerals are essential for daily biological functions of all livestock.

  • When minerals are deficient, the animal may suffer from decreased health, feed efficiency, gain and reproductive characteristics.

  • Minerals are required by the animal in two forms, macro and trace (micro).

  • Macro minerals are required in relatively large amounts (usually expressed in grams per day or a percentage of the diet). Examples of common macro minerals are: Calcium (Ca), Phosphorus (P), Salt (NaCl), Magnesium (Mg) and Potassium (K).

  • Trace (micro) minerals are required in small amounts (expressed in parts per million [ppm] or milligrams per kilogram of body weight). Although trace minerals are found in very small amounts, the balance is crucial for everyday metabolic functions of the animal. Examples of common trace minerals include: Cobalt (Co), Copper (Cu), Selenium (Se), Iodine (I) and Manganese (Mn) etc.

Through milk fat, protein, sugar as well as calcium, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, cobalt, manganese are excreted. To meet or compensate the deficiencies of these minerals, mineral mixture supplementation is needed.

Brief history of chelates:

Since the 1950s, animal feeds have been supplemented with essential trace minerals such as copper (Cu), iron (Fe), iodine (I), manganese (Mn),  molybdenum (Mo), selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn). Initially, such supplementation was by means of inorganic salts of essential trace elements. From the 1960s onwards, genetic improvement of farm livestock resulted in increased nutritional requirements for these nutrients. Chelated minerals were developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Trace mineral chelates have proven to be better than inorganic minerals in meeting the nutritional needs of modern farm animals.


  • The objective of supplementation with chelated trace minerals is to avoid a variety of deficiency diseases.

  • Trace minerals carry out key functions in relation to many metabolic processes, most notably as catalysts for enzymes and hormones and are essential for optimum health, growth and productivity. For example, supplementary minerals help ensure good growth, bone development, feathering in birds, hoof, skin and hair quality in mammals, enzyme structure and functions, and appetite.

  • Deficiency of trace minerals affect many metabolic processes and so may be manifested by different symptoms, such as poor growth and appetite, reproductive failures, impaired immune responses and general ill-thrift.

  • The role in fertility and reproductive diseases of dairy cattle highlights that organic forms of Zn are retained better than inorganic sources and so may provide greater benefit in disease prevention, notably mastitis and lameness.

What is Chelation?

Chelate comes from the Greek word for “claw,” which refers to how organic compounds are attached to inorganic compounds to improve nutrient uptake by the body.

The Chelation process literally denotes, “bringing together,” refers to a bond formed between a metal ion (mineral) and a ligand (protein or amino acid chelating agent) carrier. A mineral complex is a mixture consisting of a mineral and an organic compound carrier, such as a protein; a chelate is a type of complex.

Chelates in animal feed are organic forms of essential trace minerals such as copper, iron, manganese and zinc.

Particular types of chelates

1. Chelates are organic molecules, normally consisting of 2 organic parts with an essential trace mineral occupying a central position and held in place by covalent bonding.

2. Proteinate is a particular type of chelate, in which the mineral is chelated with short-chain peptides and amino acids derived from hydrolysed soy proteins and contain roughly 10-20% of the trace mineral. In proteinates, minerals are bound to various amino acids with different levels of stability.

3. Amino-acid complex, such as glycinates or methionates, are other particular types of chelate, in which the mineral is chelated with an amino acid. Based on one single type of amino-acid, the product is pure (there is only one type of bond or chelation between minerals and the ligand) and it is therefore easier to work on stability and ensure a full chelation. Moreover, depending on the size of amino acid, it is also possible to increase the metal content.

Advantages of Chelated Minerals to Animals:

1. Chelates are stable, electrically neutral complexes, which protect trace minerals from chemical reactions during digestion that would render the mineral unavailable to the animal. Added minerals precomplexed with organic ligands thus are used to increase bioavailability and uptake.

2. Animals absorb, digest and use mineral chelates better than inorganic minerals. This means that lower concentrations can be used in animal feeds. In addition, animals fed chelated sources of essential trace minerals excrete lower amounts in their faeces, and so there is less environmental contamination.

3. Improvement in animal produce quality (meat, milk, egg, wool etc.)

4. Improves the bioavailability of minerals.

5. Counteracts the anti-nutritional factors, which affects minerals.

6. Improves Performance.

7. Health improvement (immune status, functional nutrition).

8. Reduces the degenerative effect of trace minerals on vitamins in premixes and feed.

9. Maintains fertility, growth rate, milk production, milk quality and keep animals healthy.

10. keep body coat healthy and shiny.

Suggestive Usage:

Cow and Buffalo: 50 g per day to be mixed in the feed for maintanance and for improved fertility.

Calf, Sheep and Goat: 25-30 g per day to be mixed in the feed for better weight gain.

Pig: 25-30 g per day to be mixed in the feed for better weight gain and maintainance.

Fish: 1 kg to be mixed in 100 kg feed.

Author Details

Dr.Sagar Ashok Jadhav 
M.V.Sc. Animal Nutrition.

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