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The role, importance and toxicity of arsenic in poultry nutrition



Arsenic (As) is highly toxic element, even at very low concentrations in feed and drinking water. Its physiological role in poultry is well established, as it is essential for the synthesis of methionine metabolites including cysteine, even though it is a teratogenic and carcinogenic element. Paradoxically, recent studies have uncovered its nutritional value. The recommended amounts of As in poultry feed are between 0.012 and 0.050 mg/kg. Water is the primary route for the transfer of As and exposure of animals to its toxic effects. The available data on the impact of water contamination on the deposition of As in broiler tissues are rather scarce. The amount of As was 0.006-0.015 mg/kg in breast meat, 0.007-0.017 mg/kg in drumstick meat, 0.001-0.014 mg/kg in liver and 0.008-0.016 mg/kg in testicles of broilers at the end of a 42 day experiment after exposure to naturally contaminated drinking water. The toxic dose of As for poultry is between 40 and 50 mg/kg of poultry feed whereas the amount of 40 mg/kg leads to decreased egg production and the amount of 50 mg/kg leads to decreased feed consumption. Symptoms of chronic As exposure differ among individuals, populations and geographic regions, which suggests that there is no universal definition of symptoms associated with chronic As poisoning. Moreover, some individuals can tolerate high As, that is, levels that can be fatal for others. In wild birds, the content of As was the highest in meat of march hens (0.063 mg/kg), seagull muscle tissue (0.058 mg/kg), in meat from swans (0.022 mg/kg) and the white-tailed eagle (0.022 mg/kg). In this review, the essential role and toxicity of As in poultry nutrition is addressed with particular emphasis on its importance as a contaminant of poultry feed and products.


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The role, importance and toxicity of arsenic in poultry nutrition



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