This study performed a meta-analysis of published trials to determine the effects of zinc on the immune response and production performance of broilers.
A database was built from published literature regarding the addition of zinc forms or doses and their relation to the immune response and production performance of broilers. Different doses or forms of zinc were identified in the database. The recorded parameters were related to the immune response and production performance. The database contained a total of 323 data points from 41 studies that met the criteria. Then, the data were processed for a meta-analysis using a mixed model methodology. The doses or different forms of zinc were considered fixed effects, different studies were treated as random effects, and p-values were used as the model statistics.
An increase in zinc dose increased (p<0.05) pancreas metallothionein (MT) and zinc concentrations in the plasma, tibia and meat, all in quadratic patterns, but linearly decreased (p<0.05) the heterophil/lymphocyte (H/L) ratio. Regarding the different zinc forms, both inorganic and organic zinc increased (p<0.05) the zinc concentrations in the plasma and tibia, the calcium and phosphorus contents in the tibia, and the antioxidant activity of superoxide dismutase in meat as compared to control. An increase in zinc dose increased average daily gain (ADG) and decreased feed conversion ratio (FCR) following a quadratic pattern (p<0.05). Inorganic and organic zinc decreased (p<0.05) FCR and H/L ratio than that of control, but these two forms were similar for these parameters.
Zinc addition has a positive impact on immunity and broiler production. Zinc can suppress stress and inhibit the occurrence of lipid peroxidation in broilers, and it can also improve ADG, FCR, and the quality of broiler carcasses.