Effects of nickel supply on the fattening performance and several biochemical parameters of broiler chickens and rabbits

A. Bersényi, S. Gy Fekete, M. Szilágyi, Erzsébet Berta, L. Zöldág, R. Glávits

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Broiler chicken and rabbit experiments were carried out to study the effects of nickel (Ni) supplementation on growth performance and Ni metabolism. ROSS cockerels and New Zealand White female rabbits were fed a diet containing Ni in concentrations of 0, 50 and 500 mg/kg in dry matter (DM). Dietary supplementation of 50 mg Ni/kg slightly improved the body weight gain (BWG) and had a beneficial effect on the feed conversion efficiency (FCE) in broiler chickens. However, Ni added at a level of 500 mg/kg significantly (P < 0.05) reduced the BWG by 10% and resulted in significantly (P < 0.05) worse (2.3 ± 0.2 kg/kg) FCE. The relative weight of the liver in cockerels was significantly (P < 0.05) decreased by Ni as compared to the control group (1.7 and 2.1% vs. 2.6%). The activity of AST and CHE enzymes was increased insignificantly by dietary supplementation of 500 mg Ni/kg, indicating damage of the liver parenchyma. The results of serum biochemistry were confirmed by a mild or moderate form of pathological focal fatty infiltration of the liver in broilers. Supplemental Ni of 50 mg/kg concentration resulted in non-significantly increased BWG in rabbits. Ni added to the diet at a level of 500 mg/kg reduced the digestibility of crude protein by 3-4% and that of crude fibre by 20-25% in rabbits. Approx. 98% of the ingested Ni was lost from the body via the faeces, 0.5-1.5% via the urine and approx. 1% was incorporated into the organs of rabbits. As a result of dietary supplementation of 50 and 500 mg Ni/kg, Ni accumulated in the kidneys (4.9 ± 0.5 and 17.1 ± 3.1 vs. 1.9 ± 0.3 mg/kg DM), ribs (10.3 ± 0.4 and 10.4 ± 0.6 vs. 9.1 ± 0.6 mg/kg DM), heart (1.4 ± 0.2 and 2.5 ± 0.4 vs. 1.0 ± 0.1 mg/kg DM) and liver (1.3 ± 0.1 and 2.2 ± 0.2 vs. 0.9 ± 0.05 mg/kg DM), as compared to the control animals. It can be stated that supplementation of the diet with 50 mg Ni/kg had slight but non-significant beneficial effects on the growth performance of broiler chickens and rabbits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-197
Number of pages13
JournalActa veterinaria Hungarica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 9 2004


  • Biochemical parameters
  • Chicken
  • Nickel
  • Rabbit
  • Tissue distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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