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Potassium chloride improves the thermotolerance of chickens exposed to acute heat stress

Ait-Boulahsen, A., Garlich, J.D., Edens, F.W.
Poultry science 1995 v.74 no.1 pp. 75-87
chickens, potassium chloride, heat stress, heat tolerance, body temperature, blood plasma, pH, acid-base balance, electrolytes, North Carolina
Experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that chicks that drank an electrolyte solution containing K prior to and during an acute exposure to heat would have greater thermotolerance than chicks that consumed only water. In three experiments, 5- or 7-wk-old male chickens drank distilled water (control), or .3, .6, or .9% KCl solutions (Experiments 1 and 2), and .6 or .9% KC1 or .8% KHCO3 solutions (Experiment 3) for 48 h before acute heat stress (HS) and during HS. Body temperature (Tb), blood pH, partial pressure of blood carbon dioxide (pCO2), ionized Ca (Ca2+), plasma Na, K, Cl, total Ca, inorganic P (Pi), and osmolality (Osm), and water consumption were determined. Water intake increased with the concentration of KCl. Before HS, .6% KCl increased plasma K and Ca2+, whereas .9% KCl resulted in a marked increase in K, Ca2+, Na, Cl, and Osm and a decrease in pH. During HS, .6% KCl-birds had lower hyperthermic Tb and pH values and higher Ca2+ and K concentrations than controls. Plasma Na and Osm of .6% KCl birds decreased whereas those of the control birds remained unchanged. Providing K as KHCO3 aggravated respiratory alkalosis and failed to influence either Tb or plasma electrolytes, suggesting that the beneficial effect of .6% KCl may in part be attributed to the accompanying Cl. Hyperthermic Tb and Ca2+ values were highly correlated. The results showed that .6% KCl solution reduced HS-related responses and indicated a relationship among supplemental KCl, blood Ca2+, and Tb.