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Comprehensive review on electrolyte nutrition for broilers

Research has indicated proper dietary electrolyte balance is essential for broilers.

Electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chloride) are compounds that dissolve into positive and negative particles in solution. The relationship between these compounds, known as the dietary electrolyte balance (DEB), is affected by either electrolyte or its supplemental salt source. 

The National Research Council recommended 0.20 percent sodium, chloride, and 0.30 percent potassium for starter phase and lower doses of sodium and chloride for the finisher phase of broilers. However, these requirements are increased under heat stress conditions, and birds perform better when increasing levels of these electrolytes are offered, maintaining a DEB of preferably 250 mEq/kg. Increased levels of these electrolytes, especially sodium, were found effective for growth, but caused increased water consumption and ultimately higher litter moisture in summer.

Potassium and chloride were found effective in the diets of heat-stressed broilers. Sodium bicarbonate and potassium chloride have been recognized as the best choice in salt selection for broiler diets, particularly under hot summer conditions. In conclusion, a combination of the electrolytes with higher levels of cations and lower level of anions is recommended. Furthermore, the requirements of these electrolytes should be explored, with reference to current poultry housing systems and modern genetics.

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