Minerals in Organic Poultry Production

eOrganic author:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob Ph.D., University of Kentucky

NOTE: Before using any feed supplement make sure that the supplement is listed in your Organic System Plan and approved by your certifier.

NOTE: Brand names appearing in this article are examples only. No endorsement is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned.


Minerals in poultry nutrition are typically classified as macro- or micro-minerals, depending on the levels needed in the diet. The macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Requirements for the macro-minerals are typically expressed as percentage of the diet, while the requirements for the micro-minerals are stated as parts per million. Although the quantities required for micro-minerals are lower than for macro-minerals, they play an essential role in the body's metabolism. The micro-minerals include copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc.

Minerals are important in several different ways, with examples shown below.

Formation of the skeleton and egg shells

  • Calcium and phosphorus are essential for the formation and maintenance of the skeleton
  • Calcium is important in egg shell formation

Components of various compounds which have particular functions in the body

  • Calcium is required for blood clotting
  • Calcium is important in the transfer of information from one cell to another
  • Cobalt is part of vitamin B12
  • Iron is part of hemoglobin
  • Iodine is part of thyroxine

As cofactors in various enzymes

  • Phosphorus is required for the utilization of energy
  • Copper, manganese, selenium and zinc function as essential accessory factors to enzymes

Maintenance of osmotic balance within the body

  • Sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride function with phosphates and bicarbonate to maintain osmotic balance and pH throughout the body

Approved Sources of Macro-minerals


Calcium is typically added as calcium carbonate (limestone as well as dolomite limestone), monocalcium phosphate (e.g., BioFos® which is OMRI-listed), dicalcium phosphate (e.g., DynaFos® which is OMRI-listed), tricalcium phosphate (e.g., MultiFos® which is OMRI-listed), or seashell flour (typically oyster shells). The mono-, di- and tri-calcium phosphate are also sources of phosphorus.

  • DynaFos® Dicalcium phosphate for animal and poultry feed (Mosaic Crop Nutrition, LLC)
  • Myco-Ad® (Bennett Mineral Company)
  • Omyacarb BP AG - LU (Omya Inc.)—Calcium carbonate/Limestone
  • Penergetic t (Planistics Management, Ltd.)—Calcium carbonate/Limestone


  • BioFOS® Monocalcium phosphate for animal and poultry feed (Mosaic Crop Nutrition, LLC)
  • DynaFos® Dicalcium phosphate for animal and poultry feed (Mosaic Crop Nutrition, LLC)


  • Dynamate® feed-grade potassium and magnesium sulfate (Mosaic Crop Nutrition, LLC)


  • Dynamate® feed-grade potassium and magnesium sulfate (Mosaic Crop Nutrition, LLC)


  • 4-Plex®E (Zinpro Corporation)

Salt (NaCl/Sodium chloride)

Sodium and chloride are typically added as salt. It can be either rock salt or sea salt.

  • Sea Minerals FA (Sea Minerals FA)—Sea salt
  • The Pike Creek Salt Co. Agricultural Grade Feed Mixing Salt (Pike Creek Salt Company)

Approved Sources of Micro-minerals

Grains are low in available minerals so supplements are typically added to commercial poultry feeds. In conventional poultry diets, trace minerals are added to the diet as a pre-mix in the form of inorganic salts such as chlorides, sulfates, carbonates and oxides. Some of these are used in organic feeds.

Examples of micro-minerals used in organic feeds:

  • Manganese sulfate (manganese—Mn)
  • Ferrous sulfate (iron—Fe)
  • Calcium iodate (iodine—I)
  • Zinc sulfate or Zinc oxide (zinc—Zn)
  • Copper sulfate (copper—Cu)
  • Potassium iodide (potassium—K)
  • Potassium and magnesium sulfate (Potassium—K and Magnesium—Mg; e.g., Dynamate® which is OMRI listed)
  • Selenium selenite (selenium—Se)

More recently, organic chelates and bioplexes of trace minerals have become available. Research has shown these products increase the availability of trace minerals (Leeson and Summers, 2001). Examples of OMRI-listed products include:

  • 4-Plex®E, which contains zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt
  • Bioplex® zinc, which contains zinc
  • Sel-plex®, AlkoSel®3000, LFA selenium yeast and SelenoSource®AF2000 which contain selenium
  • Kelzyme®—a combination of fossilized marine kelp and macroalgae and enzymes that contains calcium and trace minerals

According to the published guidance document from the National Organic Program (United States Department of Agriculture, National Organic Program [USDA-NOP], 2013) "Evaluating allowed ingredients and sources of vitamins and minerals for organic livestock feed", metal amino acid chelates, metal amino acid complexes, and metal (specific amino acid) complexes as defined by AAFCO are permitted. Minerals and vitamins ingredients for use in organic poultry diets cannot be sourced from slaughter by-products from poultry or mammalian sources or sourced from products produced by excluded methods. For example:

  • Proteinated mineral sources (metal proteinates) sourced from slaughter byproducts or produced by excluded methods are not permitted.
  • Minerals sourced from bone such as bone charcoal, bone meal or bone phosphate are considered slaughter by-products and are also not permitted.


  • AlkoSel®3000 (Lallemand Animal Nutrition)
  • LFA Selenium yeast (Lesaffre Feed Additives)
  • SelenoSource® AF 2000 (Diamond V Mills, Inc.)
  • Sel-Plex® (Alltech®)


  • Bioplex® Zinc 15% OA (Alltech®)
  • Zinpro®E Zinc Methionine Complex (Zinpro Corporation)
  • 4-Plex®E (Zinpro Corporation)


  • 4-Plex®E (Zinpro Corporation)—zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt
  • Dried Kelp (Acadian Seaplants Limited)
  • Dried Seaweed Meal (Tidal Organics, Inc.)
  • Myco-Ad® (Bennett Mineral Company)
  • Phyto Z™ (EnviroMin)
  • Redmond Minerals, Inc.
  • Rich Earth™ Mineral Feed Supplement (R.E. Minerals LLC)
  • SeaLife™ Kelp Meal for Animals (North American Kelp)
  • Sea Minerals FA (Sea Minerals FA)—Sea salt
  • Thorvin™ Kelp for Animals (Thorvin, Inc)

References and Citations

  • Leeson, S., and J. Summers. 2001. Scott's Nutrition of the Chicken. 4th ed. University Books, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. 2013. Guidance: Evaluating allowed ingredients and sources of vitamins and minerals for organic livestock feed [Online]. Available at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/5030.pdf) (verified 7 Mar 2023)


Published December 10, 2013

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.