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Effect of dietary electrolyte balance on rearing performance of broiler chickens under farm conditions

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The aim of the study was to determine the efficiency of adding sodium and chlorine to commercial cereal-soybean starter and grower diets with increased potassium content in broiler chickens raised under farm conditions. A total of 4800 day-old
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   Ann. Anim. Sci., Vol. 11, No. 3 (2011) 405–412 EFFECT OF DIETARY ELECTROLYTE BALANCE ON REARING PERFORMANCE OF BROILER CHICKENS UNDER FARM CONDITIONS* * Jerzy Koreleski 1 , Sylwester Świątkiewicz 1 , Anna Arczewska-Włosek  1 , Mieczysław Słonecki 21 Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, National Research Institute of Animal Production, 32-083 Balice n. Kraków, Poland 2 Experimental Station Rossocha, National Research Institute of Animal Production, 96-204 Kurzeszyn, Poland AbstractThe aim of the study was to determine the efficiency of adding sodium and chlorine to commer-cial cereal-soybean starter and grower diets with increased potassium content in broiler chickens raised under farm conditions. A total of 4800 day-old Hubbard Flex broilers were divided into 4 groups with 6 replicates of 200 chickens each and kept in boxes on straw litter. Basal starter and grower diets contained in 1 kg (as analysed): 8.37 and 8.27 g potassium; 1.79 and 1.66 g sodium; and 3.17 and 2.76 g chlorine, respectively. The dietary electrolyte balance (DEB) values were 203 and 206 mEq/kg, respectively. Basal experimental diets were supplemented with 0.3 g Na and/or 0.5 g Cl/kg of diet in the form of sodium carbonate, sodium chloride or ammonium chloride. The dietary supplements had no effect on production parameters during the starter period. In the grower period, the sodium (NaHCO 3 ) supplement increased DEB value to 219 mEq/kg, sig-nificantly (P<0.05) increasing chickens’ body weight gain and feed intake. Sodium added together with chloride as NaCl tended to improve production parameters (non-significantly) without any effect on DEB values. Throughout rearing, the positive effect of sodium supplementation was only observed for increased feed intake (P<0.05). Supplementation of chlorine (NH 4 Cl) to the starter and grower diets reduced DEB values to 188 and 192 mEq/kg, respectively, without a positive effect on rearing performance, and decreased feed intake (P<0.05). The analysed sodium and chlo-rine supplements had no effect on dressing percentage, abdominal fat content of the carcass and litter moisture. Key words: broiler chickens, electrolyte balance, sodium, chlorine, performance. Relatively high potassium levels in plant-based diets may increase the sum of  both cations (K  +  and Na + ) while creating a special need for chlorine supplementation to reach the optimum dietary electrolyte balance (DEB) (Mongin, 1981). Dietary  potassium may increase chickens’ water intake and litter moisture (Vieira and Lima, 2005). In our previous experiment with caged chickens kept on wire floor the starter Support by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Project No. N 311 0347 34 (2261.5).   J. Koreleski et al. 406diets with high potassium levels (10.7, 12.2 and 12.7 g/kg) and a higher content of sodium (2.0 g) and chloride (3.1 g/kg) increased performance indices (Korele-ski et al., 2011 a). The performance also improved at high potassium and chloride (1.73 g) levels when dietary sodium was elevated from very low to 1.61 g/kg (Kore-leski et al., 2010). During the starter period, body weight gains and feed conversion ratio were positively affected by the dietary chloride content increased from 2.11 to 2.95 g or 3.16 g Cl per kg (Koreleski et al., 2011 b). At high dietary potassium level excreta moisture was increased (Koreleski et al., 2011 a). As a result of potassium level elevated from 7.8 g to 11.9 g/kg, the dry matter content of excreta decreased and the proportion of breast meat in the carcass increased (Koreleski et al., 2011 b).In this study performance, litter moisture and carcass indices were investigated in farmed broiler chickens kept on straw floor and fed commercial diets supplemented or not with sodium and chloride added together or separately. Material and methods A total of 4800 day-old Hubbard Flex broilers of both sexes were divided into four nutritional groups with 6 replicates of 200 chickens each and kept on straw floor at a stocking density of 14 birds/m 2 . Chickens were provided with tap drink-ing water and feed ad libitum . The basal feed mixtures (cereal-soybean starter and grower diets) were bought from the market and their composition was guaranteed. The experimental diets were the basal feeds supplemented with sodium (0.3 g/kg) and chlorine (0.5 g/kg) added together as sodium chloride (NaCl) or separately as sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO 3 ) or ammonium chloride (NH 4 Cl).The body weight (BW) and feed intake (FI) of the chickens were measured and mortality was recorded. The body weight gain (BWG) and feed conversion ra-tio (FCR) were calculated for the first (1–14 days) and second period of feeding (15–42 days) and for the entire feeding experiment (1–42 days of age). The produc-tion index (PI) was calculated for the entire period from the equation: PI = [BW (kg) ×   × liveability (%) / age (42 days) × FCR] × 100.At 21 and 35 days of age each box was awarded a subjective litter score in points, where 1 means dry litter, 2 normal litter, 3 wet litter and 4 very damp litter. Moisture, as average percent of measurements made at 5 locations of each floor was deter-mined using a moisture meter for hay and straw (Draminski, Olsztyn).At the end of the experiment, after 12 hours of starvation, 5 representative cock-erels and 5 pullets with body weight close to the respective treatment mean were chosen from each group and decapitated. The live weight and weight of the cooled carcasses with edible giblets were estimated and carcass yield and relative weights of abdominal fat were calculated (Ziołecki and Doruchowski, 1989). The Local Kraków Ethics Committee for Experiments with Animals approved all experimental  procedures relating to the use of live animals.The potassium and sodium content of the diets was analysed by atomic absorp-tion spectrometry (ISO 6869.2000). The chloride content was calculated from wa-   Dietary electrolyte balance and broiler performance 407ter soluble chloride (as NaCl), and analysed by the silver nitrate titration method (Volhard, 1874). Basal feed nutrient content was analysed using standard methods (AOAC, 1990) for dry matter (method 930.15), crude protein (984.13, by means of the Kjeldahl method, using Kjeltec Auto 1030, Tecator), crude fat (920.39) and ash (942.05). Crude fibre was estimated with Tecator Fibertec System M.The data were subjected to a one-way factorial analysis of variance. The sig-nificance of differences between means was determined by Duncan’s multiple range test and differences were considered significant at P≤0.05. Statistical analyses were  performed using Statistica 5.0 PL software (Statsoft Inc.). Results The basal standard mixtures were made as mash by a commercial feed plant. As analysed, the average basal nutrient composition of starter and grower diets was (%): dry matter 88.48 and 88.22, crude protein 21.69 and 20.41, crude fibre 3.61 and 3.39, ether extract 3.99 and 4.33, ash 5.20 and 4.72, respectively. The commercial feed mixtures were declared to contain 8.5 g K, 1.5 g Na and Cl 2.5 g/kg in the starter diet (DEB 212 mEq) and 8.4 g, 1.4 g and 2.1 g/kg in the grower diets (DEB 216 mEq/kg), respectively. Declared electrolyte content of the commercial basal diets was close enough to the analysed potassium level of 8.37 and 8.27 g/kg for both periods of feeding. In the case of sodium and especially chloride, the analysed values were higher than de-clared, i.e. 1.79 and 1.66 g Na and 17.0 and 2.76 g/kg Cl, respectively. DEB values from the analysed data were 203 and 206 mEq/kg for the starter and grower diet, re-spectively. After sodium supplementation and adding sodium together with chloride the electrolyte content increased to 2.09 and 1.96 g Na and 3.67 and 3.26 g/kg Cl, and DEB values in the starter and grower diets ranged from 201 to 216 mEq and from 205 to 219 mEq/kg, respectively (Table 1). Supplementing chloride alone reduced DEB values to 188 and 192 mEq/kg. Table 1. Design of experiment, electrolyte source added and dietary content, DEB values Group Feeding  periodSupplement Dietary electrolyte content (g/kg)DEB(mEq/kg) K  +  Na + Cl  –  I starter  8.371.793.17203grower8.271.662.76206II starter   NaCl8.372.093.67201grower8.271.963.26205III starter   NaHCO 3 8.372.093.17 216 grower8.271.962.76 219 IV starter   NH 4 Cl8.371.793.67188grower8.271.663.26 192 analysed.   J. Koreleski et al. 408 Table 2. Performance indices of chickens from 1 to 14 days of ageGroupDEB(mEq/kg)Body weight gain(g) Feed intake (g/chick)Feed conversion ratio (g/g) Mortality (%)I2033404421.301.00II2013404421.300.75III 216 3374441.320.83IV188 332 4371.321.00 SEM 1.371.450.0040.116 P≥0.05.  6 replicates of 200 chickens in each group. In the starter period of feeding no differences were noted between the groups (Table 2). The effect of electrolyte added to the diet on broiler performance was found only in the second period of feeding (Table 3). BWG and FI were significantly elevated when sodium was supplemented as NaHCO 3  (P≤0.05). A positive effect of sodium added together with chloride as NaCl was also observed but was only nu-merical (P≤0.05). Throughout the feeding period, the effect of sodium supplementa-tion tended to be positive only for increased FI (Table 4). Table 3. Performance indices of chickens from 15 to 42 days of ageGroupDEB(mEq/kg)Body weight gain(g) Feed intake (g/chick)Feed conversion ratio (g/g) Mortality (%)I2061698 a3567 ab2.1020.57II205 1761 ab3623 ab2.0591.70III 219 1764 b3629 b2.0580.76IV 192 1712 ab3559 a2.0780.76 SEM 11.412.20.0080.186 a, b – means in the same column with different letters differ significantly (P≤0.05). 6 replicates of 200 chickens in each group. Table 4. Performance indices of chickens from 1 to 42 days of ageGroup Body weight gain(g) Feed intake (g/chick)Feed conver- sion ratio (g/g) Mortality (%)ProductionIndex(points)I20384009 ab1.9671.60248II21014066 b1.9352.45257III21014073 b1.9391.60259IV2045 3996 a 1.9541.75250 SEM 11.712.10.0060.2202.08 a, b – means in the same column with different letters differ significantly (P≤0.05). 6 replicates of 200 chickens in each group.   Dietary electrolyte balance and broiler performance 409Supplementation with chloride (NH 4 Cl) had no positive effect. Throughout the experiment, FI in chickens receiving chloride supplemented feed was lower (P≤0.05) than in the groups fed the diet with sodium or sodium added together with chloride (Table 4). The highest PI was found when the diet was supplemented with sodium and to a lesser extent when sodium together with chloride were added, but in both cases differences in relation to the other groups were not significant (P≥0.05). Mor-tality in both experimental periods was relatively low and random across treatments, and the remaining chickens were in good health. Carcass yield and abdominal fat pad in carcass were not affected by electrolyte supplementation of the diet (Table 5). Table 5. Results of slaughter analysis and litter moistureGroupCarcass yield * (%)Abdominal fat pad *  (%)Litter moisture day 21 day 35%  points %  points I77.11.9333.32.0055.22.67II76.52.0934.52.1758.82.83III77.81.8935.22.0055.42.83IV77.51.9137.12.3358.43.00 SEM 0.2710.0660.7200.1091.120.098 P≥0.05. 5 representative cockerels and 5 pullets in each group. Litter moisture analysed in % or expressed in subjective points was not affected (P≥0.05), but electrolyte additions (Na and Cl) used in the experiment had a ten-dency to slightly increase moisture at 21 and 35 day of age (Table 5). Discussion All plant diets based on corn and soybean meal with elevated potassium content increase the amounts of excreta due to a higher water intake and larger proportion of indigestible components (Vieira and Lima, 2005). The sodium requirement to achieve maximum growth of chicks has been estimated to be from 2.0 g to 2.2 g for starter period and from 1.5 g to 2.0 g for grower period (NRC, 1994; Murakami et al., 1997). The control commercial feed used in this experiment contained adequate to NRC (1994) amounts of Na, which were lower when compared to the values of 2.8 g or 3.9 g/kg Na recommended by Oviedo-Rondon et al. (2001) or Borges et al. (2003). As reported by Ribero et al. (2008), during the entire period of feeding,  broilers fed sodium at the level of 2.5 g and 1.7 g/kg in the starter and grower diet had the best FCR.In contrast to our earlier findings (Koreleski et al., 2011 a, b), in the present paper the effect of electrolyte supplementation on broiler performance was not observed in the first (starter) period but only in the second period of feeding. BWG and FI in the grower period were significantly elevated when sodium was supplemented sepa-
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