Betaine is a trimethyl derivative found in living organisms in deserts and low rainfall areas. It acts as an osmolyte to help maintain cellular water balance and as a methyl donor through methionine recycling. Increased water retention due to the osmolytic effect of betaine increases the volume of the cell, thereby increase the anabolic activity, integrity of cell membrane and overall performance of the bird.

The osmolytic property of betaine permits cellular adaptation to adverse osmotic environments noticed in hot and humid climates. Vertebrates, including poultry, have limited ability to synthesise betaine in sufficient quantity. In plants, it is synthesised and accumulated to protect against salt and temperature stress.

In practical poultry nutrition, betaine can play a role in improving performance and carcass composition, reducing litter moisture as well as helping to overcome coccidiosis and stress.

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