ABSTRACT: A 6-week feeding trial was conducted to determine the effects of varying dietary electrolyte balance (DEB) on growth performance and physiological responses in broiler chicks reared during hot summer months (26.1-37.5 degrees C). The average minimum and maximum room temperatures recorded from 14 to 42 days of age were 26.1 and 37.5 degrees C, respectively, with relative humidity ranging from 51% to 55%. Five DEB treatments supplying 0, 50, 150, 250 and 350 (Na(+)+K(+)-Cl(-)) mEq/kg of diet were prepared by adding NaHCO(3) and/or NH(4)Cl to basal diet that contained 185 mEq/kg from 1 to 28 days and 172 mEq/kg from 29 to 42 days. These DEB diets were randomly offered to six experimental units of 20 chicks each. Improved 42-day body weight gain (BWG), feed:gain (F:G) and reduced mortality was noted with DEB 50, 150 and 250 mEq/kg compared to DEB 0 and 350 mEq/kg. A quadratic effect of increasing DEB level was observed on BWG and F:G, whereas the effect was linear for feed intake, water intake and litter moisture. The DEB 50, 150 and 250 maintained better blood pH, pCO(2) and HCO(3) concentrations during acute heat stress periods than that of 0 and 350. The blood heterophil and lymphocyte percent as well as heterophil:lymphocyte were remained unaffected. The lowest DEB (0 mEq/kg) diet reduced the feed intake and promoted metabolic acidosis. At 350 mEq/kg DEB, water intake and metabolic alkalosis were promoted probably due to high levels of dietary NaHCO(3). The study concluded that overall better performance was recorded with DEB 50, 150 and 250 mEq/kg. These results indicated that single optimal DEB value could not be recommended to combat heat stress in broilers.
J Anim Physiol a Anim Nutr 11/2008; 93(5):613-21. · 0.86 Impact Factor