Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 188, Issue 1, pp 35–44 | Cite as

Boron, Chromium, Manganese, and Nickel in Agricultural Animal Production

  • Jerry W. SpearsEmail author


This paper provides an overview of research that has been conducted with manganese (Mn), chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni), and boron (B) in poultry, swine, and ruminants. Manganese is an essential trace mineral that functions as an enzyme component and enzyme activator. A deficiency of Mn results in a variety of bone abnormalities, and Mn deficiency signs have been observed under practical conditions in poultry and cattle. Chromium can potentiate the action of insulin, but whether Cr is an essential trace mineral is controversial. Insulin sensitivity has been enhanced by Cr in cattle, swine, and broilers. Responses to Cr supplementation have been variable. Production responses to Cr supplementation have been most consistent in animals exposed to various stressors (heat, cold, weaning, etc). The legality of supplementing Cr to animal diets varies among countries, Cr sources, and animal species. A specific biochemical function for Ni and B has not been identified in mammals. Signs of Ni deficiency have been produced experimentally in a number of animal species. Nickel may affect rumen microbial fermentation in ruminants, as Ni is a component of bacterial urease and cofactor F430 in methanogenic bacteria. There is little evidence that dietary Ni limits animal production under practical conditions. Beneficial effects of B supplementation on growth and bone strength have been seen in poultry and swine, but results have been variable.


Manganese Chromium Nickel Boron Poultry Cattle 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal ScienceNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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