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Title: The effects of silicon on skeletal integrity in poultry
Author: Prentice, Sophie E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7965 9069
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2019
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Intensive genetic selection for growth and breast meat yield mean modern broilers are susceptible to skeletal disorders. Issues relating to leg weakness are extremely concerning in terms of welfare and cost. Silicon (Si) has been linked to the calcification of growing bone, and deficiency in poultry diets has been shown to lead to several health and welfare issues, such as various skeletal weaknesses. Beyond avoidance of deficiency per se, to date, Si has not been considered as a route to addressing the skeletal issues faced by the poultry sector. The aim of this project was to assess the impact of a newly developed, highly bio-available Si supplement on the skeletal integrity of broiler chickens. A series of in vitro studies and bird trials were conducted to investigate the Si supplement. Firstly, an investigation into the effect of altered milling parameters on particle size and suspension in carrier oil, this study showed that particles < 100μm retained their bio-availability and remained suspended for longer than larger particles. The initial feeding trial compared efficacy of the NTU supplement with other Si supplements (all fed at 1000ppm) and showed that the NTU supplement was absorbed at a higher rate (6.19ppm in plasma compared to 2.64ppm for nearest competitor) and increased tibia breaking strength at d21 and 35 to 242.98N and 419.95N (closest competitor was 213.52N and 379.19N respectively), but without a corresponding increase in ash or mineral content. The second feeding trial examined rate of inclusion (RoI) (Si fed at 250, 500, 750 and 1000ppm) and assessed whether silicon from sand (fed at 1000ppm), could provide similar benefits. This trial showed that the sand was not absorbed into the blood as Si, but the bio-available Si was absorbed proportionally to RoI, although at approximately half the level seen previously and with no bone response observed; possibly due to issues in manufacturing the supplement, so the highest RoI was used in the final bird trial on the early post hatch period. This trial showed that Si increased tibia and femur strength significantly (p < 0.05 and p < 0.001 respectively) by d21, and this corresponded with a decrease in bone formation biomarkers, and an increase in the resting zone of the growth plate and the presence of bone forming cells. This suggests a cellular response to the supplement, that in turn leads to a structural advantage to the bird. To conclude, this project has demonstrated that modern broiler chickens appear not to receive adequate bio-available silicon in standard diets for optimum skeletal development and, therefore, would benefit from bio-available silicon supplementation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available