Abstract

Sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) nutritional requirements, dietary electrolyte balance (DEB), and their effects on acid-base balance, litter moisture, and tibial dyschondroplasia (TD) incidence for young broiler chickens were evaluated in two trials. One-day-old Cobb broilers were distributed in a completely randomized design with six treatments, five replicates, and 50 birds per experimental unit. Treatments used in both experiments were a basal diet with 0.10% Na+ (Experiment 1) or Cl (Experiment 2) supplemented to result in diets with Na+ or Cl levels of 0.10, 0.15, 0.20, 0.25, 0.30, or 0.35%, respectively. In Experiment 1, results indicated an optimum Na+ requirement of 0.26%. Sodium levels caused a linear increase in arterial blood gas parameters, indicating an alkalogenic effect of Na+. The hypertrophic area of growth plate in the proximal tibiotarsi decreased with Na+ levels. The TD incidence decreased with increases in dietary Na+. Litter moisture increased linearly with sodium levels. In Experiment 2, the Cl requirement was estimated as 0.25%. Chloride levels caused a quadratic effect (P ≤ 0.01) on blood gas parameters, with an estimated equilibrium [blood base excess (BE) = 0] at 0.30% of dietary Cl. No Cl treatment effects (P ≤ 0.05) were observed on litter moisture or TD incidence. The best DEB for maximum performance was 298 to 315 mEq/kg in Experiment 1 and 246 to 264 mEq/kg in Experiment 2. We concluded that the Na+ and Cl requirements for optimum performance of young broiler chickens were 0.28 and 0.25%, respectively.