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An experiment was conducted with young chicks to investigate the effect of duodenal coccidiosis caused by Eimeria acervulina infection on the interrelationship between dietary copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn). A corn-soybean meal diet (devoid of Zn fortification) was supplemented with Zn (50 mg/kg) or Cu (250 mg/kg), or both; these diets were fed to control or coccidiosis-infected chicks. The coccidial infection depressed rate and efficiency of weight gain. Excess dietary Cu had no effect on performance of control or infected chicks. Zinc supplementation did not affect performance of control chicks, but it improved both rate and efficiency of weight gain in E. acervulina-infected chicks. Liver Zn concentration was decreased by coccidiosis, increased by Zn supplementation, but unaffected by excess dietary Cu. Liver Cu concentration was increased by excess dietary Cu and by coccidiosis but decreased by Zn supplementation of the diet. These data indicate that coccidiosis impaired Zn utilization and precipitated Zn deficiency in the chick.

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Poultry science

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