In the past in the animal’s nutrition field, mineral micronutrients were administered solely in the form of oxides or inorganic salts since they are stables, easy to blend and low cost.
In the latest years a big interest towards minerals’ organic forms (chelates) to use in animals’ nutrition have arisen.

This interest mainly derives from the great economic and nutritional results obtained from using chelates in numerous in-vivo and in-vitro tests. Indeed, the use of chelates considerably improves metals bioavailability and it leads to several advantages such as:

  1. Increase of growth,
  2. Increase of reproduction capacity,
  3. General improvement of animal’s health.

Metals are essential compounds to carry out animal’s physiological functions; Na+, K+, Ca+, Mg+ react as structural elements and to maintain (cariche?) and the osmotic balance.
Transition-metal ions (light blue) have a structural role in enzyme proteins or as activators for the protein activity.

Despite numerous researches that have been effected, we are far from a total/full comprehension of the physiological activities of chelates, nonetheless the use of chelates for animal nutrition is widespread thanks to a series of real advantages detected on field:

Metal chelates in animal nutrition and their improvements

Food quality improvement:

  • Free metal ions (Fe, Cu, and Mn) absence in premixtures prevents vitamins from oxidation and fats from going rancid,
  • Since being protected, metal is more stable: for this reason, interactions that may occur between metal cation and phytate, that can also reduce their bioavailability, are considerably lowered

Feed nutritional property improvements:

  • Chelation reduces interactions with other nutrition components during the digestion process,
  • Metal ion follows the same path of chelating-molecule uptake leading to a higher absorption and to a reduction of metal concentration in emissions.

Among all advantages mentioned above, the most interesting one for the zootechnical field is indeed the metal concentration reduction in excretion. In the following table is evident that the use of chelates has reduced excretion of Cu, Zn, and Mn.


Mg/kg SS


Mg/kg SS


Mg/kg SS

Copper 152 108 (-29%) 71 (-53%)
Zinc 710 350 (-50.8%) 309 (-56.5%)
Manganese 530 258 (-51.4%) 233 (-56.1%)
Final Phase      
Copper 164 91 (-44.6%) 80 (-51.3%)
Zinc 835 456 (-45.4%) 387 (-53.7%)
Manganese 582 343 (-41%) 312 (-46.4%)
Control: Cu 15mg/kg Zn 100mg/kg Mn 40mg/kg

Diet 1: Cu 5mg/kg Zn 25mg/kg Mn 10mg/kg

Diet 2: same composition of Diet 1, but with 50% of chelates