Intellibond offers cost-effective high bioavailability for pigs and poultry

23 September 2020

Optimising trace mineral supply to the animal’s bloodstream is key to optimising performance and minimising a range of conditions that can compromise productivity in pigs and poultry.  The new form of hydroxy trace minerals now available on the GB market overcome some of the challenges presented with inorganic forms of trace elements currently included in animal supplements to improve performance and cost-effectiveness of supplementation.

The sole objective of mineral nutrition is to meet the requirements of the animal as efficiently as possible, maximising animal performance and controlling costs whilst increasingly helping meet environmental constraints.

All trace elements are absorbed into the blood stream in the intestines via specific metal protein transporters.  This process is the same, irrespective of the source and form of trace element fed.  However, the different forms will vary in their ability to get the metal ion to the point of absorption and therefore in their relative bioavailability.

Inorganic sulphate sources of trace elements are highly soluble in the gastro-intestinal tract which greatly compromises their efficacy. Due to their high solubility at the pH levels in the gut, the dissociated free metal ion becomes available to bind to antagonists rendering it unavailable meaning less is available for absorption.  It can also bind to other nutrients, making them less available.

Organic sources, such as amino acid chelates and complexes, on the other hand are non-reactive in the gut meaning more of the trace mineral ions pass into the intestine for absorption.

However, the downside of organic sources is cost.  The increased bioavailability brings with it an increased price compared to inorganic sources with implications for formulation costs and finished product prices.

A newly defined category of trace minerals, Hydroxy trace minerals, offer a new option for formulators, combining the superior bioavailability and reduced reactivity of organic sources but at a lower cost.

Hydroxy trace minerals have a unique hydroxy group bonded to the metal.  This unique structure allows superior performance as the molecule remains intact in the upper gastrointestinal tract but then becomes available for absorption in the intestine when the pH drops below 4.0.  It does not bind with antagonists or other nutrients particularly in the early gut so improving bioavailability.

The complete IntelliBond® range of hydroxy trace minerals, including copper, zinc and manganese was launched into the US market by Micronutrients in 2011 and was then acquired by Nutreco in 2016, to strengthen the Trouw Nutrition Selko brand portfolio.  Selko IntelliBond is now the fastest growing hydroxy trace mineral brand globally, produced to robust quality control and assurance standards in the US, and offering an advanced solution to drive animal performance.

There is a growing bank of research data showing significant benefits from the use of hydroxy-minerals in pig and poultry production.

In pig production the use of Intellibonds has been demonstrated to help ensure a stronger immune system, reducing stress in piglets and improving performance.  In finishers Intellibonds have been proven to increase lean meat percentage, Average Daily Gain and Feed Conversion, all key indicators for better returns. 

Reducing variability in finishing has a major impact on unit throughput, particularly in all in: all out systems.  Figure 1 demonstrates how the inclusion of Intellibonds reduces variability in finishing pigs, cutting the numbers of both tailenders and overweight pigs.

 Figure 1         Differences in finisher body weight variation comparing sulphates and IntelliBond


With the growing scrutiny on the environmental impact of animal production, it is notable that the use of Intellibonds contributes to reduced mineral excretion which is beneficial for soil mineral status.

In layer units, hydroxy minerals have been shown to increase egg production and improve egg shell quality, leading to a reduction in breakages.  In addition, they help reduce the impact of heat stress on egg production rates.  Figure 2 shows the benefits of replacing oxides with Intellibond both on rate of lay and feed conversion.

 Figure 2         Lay rate (left) and egg feed conversion ratio (FCR) of layers fed either oxide or IntelliBond trace mineral sources of zinc and manganese. (Different superscripts next to numbers denote statistical differences (P<0.05)).


In broilers, improved breast meat percentage has been observed along with a positive effect on feed conversion and average daily gain.

In addition to the beneficial effects on animal performance, Intellibonds can also improve the stability of other feed ingredients.  For example, copper sulphate is known to reduce the stability of α-tocopherol in feed.  Feeding Intellibond copper as an alternative reduces this degradation by up to 13% (figure 3).  This improves shelf life and nutrient stability, increasing overall nutrient availability.

 Figure 3         Vitamin E levels over time in feed with differing copper sources and levels (Different superscripts next to numbers denote statistical differences (P<0.05))


Outstanding quality, handling and stability

With a number of hydroxy mineral brands now available on the market worldwide, it is important to be aware that whilst the empirical formulae of the products may be the same, careful control of the production process and quality control measures are critical for optimal animal performance.

At the heart of hydroxy mineral performance is the crystal structure and the strength of the chemical bonds, the production of which is a significant challenge particularly if a highly consistent and high-quality product is to be achieved.  Feed compounders and premixers should be aware of the importance of strict production control measures that need to be in place to ensure a highly stable and effective product.

Intellibond also has an unrivalled wealth of research, much of it published, from over 150 studies obtained over 20 years demonstrating the effectiveness of the brand specifically and its benefits in terms of animal performance across multiple species.

This research is specific to the effectiveness of the crystal structure of Intellibond, so formulators and nutritionists should be aware of this when looking into or being presented with generic hydroxy mineral research.

Products must meet EU compliance for the content of heavy metal, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds.  Samples of some hydroxy mineral products have shown levels of 2-5 times the regulatory limit, putting a huge question mark over their quality and toxicity.

Selko IntelliBond trace minerals have been produced to ensure superior characteristics during feed manufacture.  Patented Optisize Large Particle Technology helps ensure there are no detrimental effects to the stability and feed quality of premixes and finished feeds.  The technology helps deliver a more uniform particle size for more predictable measuring and handling, while ensuring more even distribution throughout the feed. 

The non-hygroscopic property of the particles prevents absorption of moisture from the atmosphere, so eliminating caking and clumping.  It also reduces the negative interactions with moisture added during the compound manufacturing process, improving nutrient availability and stability.

IntelliBond hydroxy trace minerals are the first new development in trace mineral technologies for over 30 years, and backed by nearly 200 research trials, give a proven way to improve mineral bioavailability to improve animal performance while helping control feed costs for improved margins.

Dr Sophie Prentice, Monogastric Feed Additive Product Manager, Trouw Nutrition GB