The effects of inclusion level and source of sodium in diets for growing turkeys. A review
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Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, Bydgoska 1/9, 10-243 Olsztyn
University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Department of Poultry Science, M. Oczapowskiego 5,10-719 Olsztyn
Publication date: 2014-03-03
Corresponding author
J. Jankowski   

University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Department of Poultry Science, M. Oczapowskiego 5,10-719 Olsztyn
J. Anim. Feed Sci. 2014;23(1):3-12
This review briefly summarizes the results of recent studies investigating the effects of different dietary sodium (Na) levels on gastrointestinal function, excreta moisture content, incidence of footpad dermatitis (FPD), tibia mineralization, and growth performance in turkeys. Research shows that an increase in the sodium content of turkey diets from 0.07% to approximately 0.22% led to minor changes in the gastrointestinal tract of birds, limited to increased hydration and decreased viscosity of small intestinal digesta, and that it had no significant influence on fermentation processes in the caecum. Dietary Na contributed to the development and severity of FPD in turkeys, despite its insignificant effect on excreta moisture content. Blood electrolyte concentrations were similar in turkeys fed sodium-deficient diets (0.08% and less) and diets containing an excess of sodium (0.17%–0.22%). No differences were observed in the immune responses of birds (percentages of T-cell subpopulations). Moderate levels of dietary Na (0.13% and 0.17%) improved tibia mineralization compared with diets containing lower Na levels (0.12% and less). Nonetheless, an increase in Na inclusion rates from 0.17% to 0.22% and from 0.13% to 0.28% did not improve the parameters of tibia growth, mineralization, or breaking strength. Turkeys fed a diet with a low Na content (below 0.1%) were characterized by a slower growth rate, and the noted trend was much more pronounced in the first 8 weeks than at the end of the rearing period. Dietary Na inclusion levels higher than those recommended by the National Research Council (NRC 1994) did not increase the final body weights of turkeys. The recommendations of the German Society of Nutrition Physiology (GfE 2004) more adequately reflect the actual sodium requirements of turkeys than the recommendations of the NRC (1994) and poultry breeding companies. In diets for younger turkeys, dietary sodium levels can be lowered to 0.13%, 0.12% and 0.10% at 1–4, 5–8 and 9–12 weeks of age, respectively, and in older birds the Na content of diets can be maintained at 0.09%. The results of one experiment that examined the physiological effects of Na sources alternative to NaCl in turkey diets do not justify far-reaching conclusions. Further study is required to confirm the suitability of NaHCO3 and Na2SO4 as alternatives to NaCl in turkey nutrition.
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