Recently, nanotechnology has been widely adopted in many fields. The goal of this study was to evaluate the potential for amino acid coated nano minerals as a supplement in broiler feed. Zinc was selected as a model mineral for this test and supplementation of nano zinc, both coated and uncoated was compared with organic and inorganic commercial forms of zinc. A total of 48 pens (8 birds each) were assigned to one of the following dietary treatments: Control, methionine-Zinc chelate (M-Zn), nano zinc oxide (Nano-ZnO), and methionine coated nano zinc oxide (M-Nano-ZnO). All experimental diets were formulated with the same total zinc, methionine, protein, and energy content with just the zinc source as a variable. Bird weight, feed intake and feed conversion ratios were recorded weekly, with three birds culled (sacrificed) at day 21 and day 35 for sampling measures. Ileal digestibility of zinc was determined at day 21 and day 35 using titanium dioxide as an inert marker. Blood serum, liver and spleen samples were collected at day 21 and day 35 and analysed for zinc content via inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Tibia strength and morphometrics were measured from both legs of three birds per pen at day 21 and day 35. The study was conducted at Nottingham Trent University Poultry Unit, UK. The novel method of producing nano minerals coated with amino acids was successfully tested with zinc and material produced to test in the feeding study. Methionine coated nano zinc oxide supplementation significantly improved bird weight gain and the increased feed intake of broilers compared to an inorganic zinc form. Ileal digestibility was also improved with this methionine-nano zinc. Moreover, this supplementation improved the tibia strength of broilers at the age of 21 days, though this was not observed at day 35. Therefore, M-Nano-ZnO could be used to supplement broilers to improve both performance and digestibility with a limited positive impact on bone strength. The results of the current study suggest that the amino acid coating of nano minerals can improve the digestibility of minerals which may have further implications for the field of mineral nutrition in animal feeds.
Keywords: broiler; nanoparticle; tibia; zinc supplementation.