Optimization of dietary zinc for egg production and antioxidant capacity in Chinese egg-laying ducks fed a diet based on corn-wheat bran and soybean meal

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of zinc supplementation on productive performance and antioxidant status in laying ducks. Five-hundred-four laying ducks were divided into 7 treatments, each containing 6 replicates of 12 ducks. The ducks were caged individually and fed a corn-soybean meal and wheat bran basal diet (37 mg Zn/kg) or the basal diet supplemented with 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, or 90 mg Zn/kg (as zinc sulfate). During the early laying period of 10 d (daily egg production <80%), egg production, daily egg mass, and FCR increased quadratically with increasing dietary Zn levels (P < 0.05). The highest egg production and daily egg weight were obtained when 30 or 45 mg Zn/kg diet was supplemented, with lowest FCR. Similarly, the highest egg production and daily egg mass were observed in the group supplemented with 30 or 45 mg Zn/kg during the peak laying period of the subsequent 120 d (daily egg production >80%). Average egg weight and feed intake did not differ among the groups of graded Zn supplementation.

The egg quality was not affected by dietary Zn, including the egg shape index, Haugh unit, yolk color score, egg composition, and shell thickness. The activities of plasma activities of total superoxide dismutase (T-SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-PX) increased in a quadratic manner (P < 0.001) with increasing supplemental Zn. Plasma concentration of Zn increased quadratically (P < 0.05) as dietary Zn increased. The hepatic activity of Cu/Zn-SOD and GSH-PX increased quadratically (P < 0.05) with increasing dietary Zn. Plasma Zn concentrations were positively correlated with activities of T-SOD (P < 0.05), and positively with plasma Cu. Plasma concentration of reduced glutathione was correlated with plasma Cu. In conclusion, supplementation of Zn at 30 or 45 mg/kg to a corn-wheat bran and soybean basal diet may improve the productive performance and enhance the antioxidant capacity.

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