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Niacin Levels in our Layer FeedUpdated 6 months ago

There are four main sources of niacin in animal feed. 

There is niacin found in cereal grains like wheat (not so much in corn). That is not very available to animals, so I don’t count it when I formulate. That’s why some homemade feeds don’t work well for ducks – they can’t use the niacin that is in the grains. It’s not what is called “bioavailable.”

There is the niacin that the animal makes inside its body from the amino acid tryptophan found in proteins, and that varies a lot depending on what else is in the diet.  Ruminants make some similarly in their rumens (multiple stomachs that ferment feed).

There is the niacin that the animal’s body makes itself from Vitamin K – again, a downfall of homemade feeds if they don’t include added vitamins.

And there is a vitamin called nicotinic acid or niacinamide, which is the name for the vitamin that is produced commercially. That’s the only one that can be positively measured and guaranteed, and feed mills and human food and vitamin manufacturers use it.

When we formulate feed, we recognize that not enough niacin is very bad, especially for waterfowl, and can lead to all kinds of deficiencies. Too much niacin can be bad, but it is pretty hard to have too much niacin unless there is a serious mistake in manufacturing. Animals pee (or in the case of birds, “excrete”) excess niacin, so they’d have to have a LOT of it for it to be toxic. Our amounts don’t come anywhere near that level.

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