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Influence of Iron Source (Organic vs Inorganic) on Broiler Performance Under a Pathogen Exposure

Published: August 21, 2019
By: Jack Garrett 1, Greg Nunnery 1, James McNaughton 2. / 1 QualiTech Inc., Chaska, MN, USA; 2 AHPharma, Inc., Salisbury, MD, USA.

Iron is a trace mineral supplemented in broiler diets. Bacterial pathogens, such as E. coli, C. perfringens and E. acervulina have an essential requirement for iron such that they have multiple sequestering mechanisms to obtain iron. This study was designed to evaluate the hypothesis that an organic form of iron (SQM Iron®, QualiTech, Inc.) could limit the availability of iron to such pathogens and reduce their impact on broiler performance. A total of 2496 mixed sex broiler chickens (Ross 708) were randomly assigned to one of 48 pens (12 pens/replicate). Diets (corn-soy based) were formulated to meet industry standards for a Prestarter (0-7d), Grower (8-35d) and Finisher (36-42d) program. Treatments included 1) iron sulfate as the sole supplemental iron source (IONC), 2) SQM Iron instead of iron sulfate (OINC), 3) IONC receiving a pathogen exposure on day 7 (IOPC), and 4) OINC receiving a pathogen exposure on day 7 (OIPC). Broilers received Cocci-Vac day 0. Sub-clinical exposure was provided by obtaining used litter containing E. acervulina (>50,000 oocysts/bird), C. perfringens (>104/bird) and E. coli (>106/bird). Performance was measured every 7 days; lesion scoring, and bacterial counts were done on day 21 and 42. Broiler growth rate and efficiency was significantly (p<0.085) impaired by the pathogen exposure every week of the study. Iron source had a significant (p<0.05 improvement on weight and efficiency through week 3 with the organic iron source. Week 4-6 had strong trends for organic source improving bird weight and efficiency. Bird mortality showed a significant (p<0.05) interaction between source and expose with those bird receiving the organic source reducing mortality under the exposure conditions. Lesion scores were significantly (p<0.01) reduced by feeding the organic iron source (exposed or unexposed). Iron source had no influence on E. coli counts. Feeding the organic iron source significantly (p<0.01) reduced C. perfringens and cocci counts at all times of the study. Results of this study showed that feeding SQM Iron as an organic iron source reduced the growth rate of pathogens. This reduction in growth rate appears to be due to limiting the accessibility of iron for growth of pathogens.

Introduction: Pathogens and Iron Requirement
  • E. coli accumulate large amounts of iron via multiple transport systems including enterochelin transport system (McIntosh and Earhart, 1977).
  • Three tetracyclines were found to possess iron-chelating activity as part of the antibiotic activity. (Greinier et al., 2000)
  • Clostridium perfringens produced larger colonies, with…ferredoxin, than that on the control medium. (Osman et al. 2013)
  • Proposed that increasing iron concentration may thus lead to an increase in E. coli growth. (Appenzitter et al. 2005)
  • Research showed that maximum growth for E. coli occurred at 0.6 mg. ferrous ion/l. medium. (Pappenheimer & Shaskan, 1944)
  • E. coli growth was not affected by increases beyond 0.6 mg/l up to 90 mg./l. (Fuchs and Bonde, 1957)
  • Numerous studies have assessed the potential viability of iron-chelators as therapeutic agents against various microbes…. (Thompson et al., 2012)
Influence of Iron Source (Organic vs Inorganic) on Broiler Performance Under a Pathogen Exposure - Image 1
Influence of Iron Source (Organic vs Inorganic) on Broiler Performance Under a Pathogen Exposure - Image 2
Influence of Iron Source (Organic vs Inorganic) on Broiler Performance Under a Pathogen Exposure - Image 3
Determine the influence of iron source on broiler performance when exposed to contaminated used litter.
Materials and Methods
  • 2x2 factorial arrangement of treatments (Iron source x bacterial exposure)
    • Iron sulfate vs SQM Fe; 20 ppm
    • Control litter vs contaminated litter
  • 2,496 mixed sex broiler chicks
    • 48 pens total (52 chicks/pen)
  • Starter (0-7 day), Grower (8-35 day), and Finisher (36-42 day).
  • Mash form were based on corn and SBM.
  • 42-d study, measurements 7, 14, 21, 35 and 42 days.
  • The sub-clinical exposure (built-up litter and moderate stress conditions via bacterial and coccidial exposure), relating to age of litter (a minimum of three previous flocks), was obtained with built-up litter, containing a mixture of coccidia E. acervulina (>50,000 oocysts/bird), Clostridium perfringens (>104 per bird) and E. coli (>106 per bird) bacteria were administered into the litter on Day 7.
Influence of Iron Source (Organic vs Inorganic) on Broiler Performance Under a Pathogen Exposure - Image 4
Influence of Iron Source (Organic vs Inorganic) on Broiler Performance Under a Pathogen Exposure - Image 5
  • SQM Iron maintained the performance of broilers when exposed with microbial pathogens.
  • The mode of action appears to be providing a highly bioavailable source of iron to the broilers while reducing the ability of microbial pathogens to utilize that same iron source for growth.
  • Therefore, to reduce the impact of a subclinical microbial infection include SQM Iron in your trace mineral fortification program.
Presented at IPPE 2019 in Atlanta, USA.
Related topics:
Jack Garrett, PhD
Tuoying Ao
16 de junio de 2020
I wonder what the level of iron in basal diet is. The iron content in basal diet can be very high sometimes. If this is the case in current trial, then iron is not the limiting factor in the diet.
Jack Garrett, PhD
13 de septiembre de 2019

Thank you for your question. The calculated iron content of the basal diets came out to be about 70 ppm. And so our treatments were 20 ppm additional added to those diets. In earlier research that we conducted, it showed that these type diets needed supplemental iron. The industry values for supplementation, that we have found, range from 20 to 60 ppm additional iron. We chose to go with the lower inclusion rates in this study. One of the other considerations is "How available is the iron from the feed sources?" Very little research I have been able to find has shown iron bio-availability for individual feed-stuffs. What I have found is that if the iron is in the ferric form it is poorly available and if it is in the ferrous from it is more available. Soil contamination and most sources (not of animal origin) are in the ferric form, thus low available iron. I hope this information helps.

Victor G. Legaspi
23 de septiembre de 2020
Excellent advise. It is really the measure of the availability of the iron to the bird which is primary of importance than just the content. Thank you.
Victor Deike
APC, Inc.
17 de mayo de 2020
Hello, Have you found any reference to 'natural'organic iron sources formulated in the diets? I have in mind blood sources (esp spray dried hemoglobine)? Thank you, Victor
Daniel Severino
9 de mayo de 2020
It sound very good and viable option The only challenge is or may detail the deference on other organic vitamins and which onse do we need to eliminate Regards DANIEL
Dr Valeriy Kryukov
29 de abril de 2020

Dear Jack Garrett!
You state that: "Research on multiple chelated products in the market is absolutely necessary for the scientific community, but not necessary for individual companies to conduct."
But how can you prove that your product is better than the competitor's?

Dr Valeriy Kryukov
21 de abril de 2020
Dear Jack Garrett, Conducting research on chickens requires a lot of effort and time. Preliminary research is best done on culture in vitro. In vitro results can not be transferred to animals (in vivo), but they will allow you to exclude non-effective options. It is good to study one product and be a patriot of your company, but comparative research provides more information. If Your product is the most active, it will give you additional information to confirm your competitive advantages. If the product is weak, you can compare it with others and understand how to improve it. Before conducting research, you need to find information about the dependence of E. coli, Clostridium, Salmonella and other bacteria of interest to you on specific mineral elements. If a particular bacterium requires iron (or another element) for growth, then it is necessary to test chelates with different stability and choose one that is weakly available or unavailable to the bacterium, but available to the animal. There may be another option: create an excess of iron so that it disrupts the metabolism of the bacteria, but does not adversely affect the animals. This can be adjusted using chelates with different stability constants. The stability constant can be determined by Gao et al. (2012). I wish you success!
Dr Valeriy Kryukov
19 de abril de 2020

Dear authors Jack Garrett and others!
Your work, regardless of the results, is of great importance, as it helps to develop a new line of research on the use of organic compounds of trace elements. Their role can not be seen exclusively in improving the availability of minerals for animals, perhaps in some cases this is not even the main thing. This assumption is confirmed only by the different effectiveness of their use, which is registered in hundreds of experiments.
Specifically to your work, I want to note that the effectiveness of organic sources of iron will depend on the stability of the compounds used. Please repeat the research and test the effect of iron chelates with low (6-8), medium (11-14) and high (20-30) stability constants. You will get original new information. I wish you success.

Mekonnen Berhe
28 de septiembre de 2019

It seems good but let discuss more and more in detail and then evaluate the performance of the chickens. And what about the other elements such as Selenium, and vit E, also not only the performance should also evaluate the enzymes those found with in the chickens body.

Popoola Adesola
23 de septiembre de 2019
Dont you think this organic can only be useful to feed Miller's and not farms since they don't make their own mineral pre mix themselves?
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