Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Animal Science

Major Professor

J. P. Hitchcock

Committee Members

James K. Miller, Herschel V. Shirley


Possible physiological interactions between nickel and iron were investigated in chicks and weaned baby pigs with special emphasis on the effect of form and concentration of iron on nickel and their effects on performance, hematology and mineral parameters. In the first experiment 48 Yorkshire X Duroc X Hampshire weaned pigs from 8 litters and averaging 9.8 kg were housed individually in 76 X 60 cm expanded metal pens. They were divided into 8 groups and fed diets containing 0, 10, 50 or 100 parts per million (ppm) added nickel (Ni) as the chloride and 60 ppm iron (Fe) as ferrous or ferric sulfate in a 4 X 2 factorial arrangement. Feed mixed with water as a gruel was offered twice daily to appetite and additional water was to satiation after each feeding. Pigs were weighed and blood was sampled weekly to obtain performance, hematological data and plasma minerals (Ni, Fe, Cu and Zn). Hair was clipped from the right shoulder and hip at 14, 21 and 28 days for mineral analysis. Pigs fed Ni added at 50 ppm to the basal diet had lower (P<.05) average daily gain (ADG) after 14 days and required more (P<.05) feed per unit gain (F/G) than did pigs fed the other Ni concentrations. Pigs receiving ferric Fe also required more F/G than did those given ferrous Fe. Although not affected significantly by form of Fe across all concentrations of Ni, ADG was decreased with ferric but not with ferrous Fe at 50 ppm added Ni. Addition of 50 ppm Ni increased (P<.05) red cell concentration, hematocrit and hemoglobin at 28 days and concentrations of Ni, Fe and Cu in pigs fed 50 ppm added Ni were higher when ferric as compared with ferrous Fe was fed. Dietary concentration of nickel and form of Fe had no effect on mineral content of hair. Addition of 50 ppm Ni decreased performance and increased hematological and plasma minerals in pigs. Nickel chloride appeared to interact in a synergistic manner with ferric sulfate but not with ferrous sulfate on the parameters studied. In the second experiment 384 male broiler chicks of the Hubbard X Hubbard strain were fasted overnight, weighed to the nearest gram, wing banded and allotted to 48 treatment groups with similar average initial weights. Groups were assigned to 48 wire bottomed cages within two batteries containing 24 cages each. Three replicates per treatment with eight birds per replicate were randomly allotted to 0, 10, 50 or 100 ppm added nickel from nickel chloride, each with 60 or 100 ppm Fe as ferrous sulfate in a 4 X 2 X 2 factorial arrangement. The birds were fed and watered ad libitum for the 4 weeks of the experiment. They were weighed at the start of the experiment and thereafter at weekly intervals. At the termination of the experiment all chicks were bled via heart puncture and 12 tissues were obtained from each bird for analysis. Average daily feed intake (ADF) and ADG were higher (P<.05) for chicks fed 60 ppm as compared with 100 ppm Fe for the first 2 weeks of the experiment. However, at day 21 ADG was higher (P<.05) when Fe was supplemented at 100 ppm rather than at 60 ppm. On day 28 ADG was higher (P<.05) for chicks fed diets supplemented with ferric Fe rather than for those fed ferrous Fe supplemented diets. However, ADF was significantly higher for chicks fed diets supplemented with ferrous Fe than when ferric Fe was fed. Feed:gain ratio was not affected significantly by either form or concentration of Fe. Hematocrit was affected by neither form nor concentration of Fe. Although not affected by concentration of Fe, hemoglobin concentration was higher (P<.05) when chicks were supplemented with ferric rather than ferrous Fe. Nickel concentration in trichloroacetic acid treated plasma was increased (P<.05) for chicks fed diets supplemented with ferrous Fe. Plasma Fe concentration was higher (P<.05) for chicks fed 60 rather than ICQ ppm Fe and higher (P<.05) when ferrous rather than ferric Fe was added. Average daily gain was increased (P<.05) on day 7 by Ni added at 50 and 100 ppm, was decreased (P<.05) on days 14 and 21 by 100 ppm added Ni, but at day 28, ADG and total ADG were not significantly affected by Ni concentration. Neither ADF nor feed:gain were significantly affected by added dietary Ni. Added Ni decreased (P<.05) hematocrit at 50 ppm but increased (P<.05) hemoglobin concentration at 100 ppm. Plasma Ni concentration was increased (P<.05) by added dietary Ni at 50 and 100 ppm when plasma was treated with sulfosalicylic acid and at 100 ppm when plasma was treated with TCA. Nickel concentration was higher when plasma was treated with TCA than when plasma was treated with SSA. Concentrations (wet basis) of Ni and Fe were higher (P<.05) in kidney tissue in chicks fed 100 ppm added Ni.

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