As India is a tropical country, heat stress is one of the major constrains that India faces. So, the introduction of Betaine can be beneficial to the poultry farmers.  Betaine  has been found to increase poultry production by helping to reduce heat stress. It also helps in  increasing FCR of birds  and digestibility of crude fiber and crude protein. Owing to its osmoregulatory effects, Betaine improves the performance of birds that have been affected by coccidiosis. It also helps in increasing the lean weight of poultry carcasses .


Betaine, Heat stress, Methyl donor, Feed additive


In the Indian agricultural scenario, poultry sector is one of the fastest growing segments. With the eggs and meat production rising at the rate of 8-10% p.a, India is  now the fifth largest egg producer and eighteenth largest producer of broilers. But being a tropical country heat stress is one of the major problems faced by the poultry industry in India. Heat stress is when birds are exposed to degrees of temperature higher than the optimal, thus impairing normal functioning of the body that affects the growth and productive performance of the birds. It also negatively affects intestinal development leading to reduced nutrient digestibility and also decreases feed intake.

Mitigation of heat stress through infrastructural management  like providing an insulated house, air conditioners, more space to the birds tends to be very expensive. In such a case nutritional therapy using feed additives such as Betaine helps to tackle the problem of heat stress. Betaine is a multi-nutritional crystalline alkaloid found in sugar beets and other feeds that has been used to treat hepatic and gastrointestinal disturbances and for heat stress control in poultry. It is available as betaine anhydrous extracted from sugar beets, betaine hydrochloride from synthetic production. It acts as a methyl donor  that helps in re-methylation of homocysteine to methionine in chicken and to formulate useful compounds such as carnitine, creatinine and phosphatidyl choline to S-adenosyl methionine pathway. Owing to its zwitterionic composition, it acts as an osmolyte helping in maintenance of water metabolism of the cells.

Advantages of feeding betaine in poultry –

  • It increases growth rate of poultry by saving the energy used in Na+ k+ pump at higher temperature and allows this energy to be used for growth.
  • Ratriyanto, et al (2017) reported that inclusion of betaine by 0.06% and 0.12% causes an increase in the digestibility of crude protein and crude fiber.
  • It also increases the digestibility of dry matter, ether extract and non- nitrogen fiber extract by aiding in expansion of intestinal mucosa which improves absorption and utilization of nutrients.
  • It improves concentration of short chain fatty acids such as acetic acid and propionic acid which are needed to host lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in poultry.
  • The problem of wet droppings and subsequent decrease in litter quality can be improved by betaine supplementation in the water by promoting higher water retention in birds exposed to heat stress.
  • Betaine supplementation improves FCR @1.5-2 Gm/kg feed(Attia, et al, 2009)
  • It is a better methyl donor as compared to choline chloride and methionine in terms of cost effectiveness.

Affects of Betaine on coccidiosis –

Coccidiosis is associated with osmotic and ionic disorder as it causes dehydration and diarrhea. Betaine owing to its osmoregulatory mechanism allows normal performance of cells under water stress. Betaine when combined with ionophore coccidiostat (salinomycin) has a positive effect on bird performance during coccidiosis by inhibition of coccidial invasion and development and indirectly by supporting the intestinal structure and function.

Role in Broiler production –

Betaine stimulates the oxidative catabolism of fatty acid via its role in carnitine synthesis and thus and be used as a means to increase lean and decrease fat in poultry carcass(Saunderson and by macKinlay, 1990). It improves carcass weight, dressing percentage, thigh, breast and giblets percentage at a level of 0.1-0.2 % in the feed. It also influences fat and protein deposition and reduces fatty liver and decreases abdominal fat.

Role in layer production –

Osmoregulatory effects of betaine enables the birds to handle heat stress which commonly affects most layers during peak production. In laying hens significant reduction of fatty liver was found with increase betaine level in diet.


From all the above discussion it can be concluded that betaine can be considered as a potential feed additive that not only enhances performance and growth rate in birds but is also more economically efficient alternative. The most significant effect of betaine is its ability to combat heat stress. It is also a better and cheaper alternative for methionine and choline and is also more rapidly absorbed. It also possesses no harmful effects to the birds and also there is no kind of public health concerns and with some antibiotics used in poultry.