Journal of Advanced Veterinary Research

Volume 9, Issue 4, 2019, Pages: 161-169


(ISSN: 2090-6277/2090-6269/ © 2011-2019 JAVR)


Effects of Dietary Inclusion of Non-protein Nitrogenous Compounds on Performance and Serum Biochemistry of Broiler Chickens


Kamel M.A. Hassanin1, Ibrahim M.I. Youssef2, Ahmed Abdel-Wahab3*, Samar S. Tawfeek2


1Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Minia University, El-Minia 61519, Egypt.

2Department of Nutrition and Clinical Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Beni-Suef University, Beni-Suef 62511, Egypt.

3Department of Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Minia University, El-Minia 61519, Egypt.



Received: 17 August 2019; Accepted: 27 September 2019

(*Corresponding author:




This study aimed to evaluate partial substitution of soybean meal (SBM) with certain non-protein nitrogenous compounds (especially ammonium sulphate ''Amm. sulphate'' and ammonium chloride ''Amm. chloride'') in diets of broilers. A total of 201 one-day old broiler chicks were fed starter (0-3 weeks) and finisher (4-7 weeks) diets. Amm. chloride was added at levels of 1.50% in the starter diet and then 1.50, 2.80 and 4.0% in the finisher diet, whereas, Amm. sulphate was added at levels of 1.80% in the starter diet, and then 1.80, 3.50 and 5.0% in the finisher diet. Performance data were monitored and blood samples were collected at the third and seventh weeks. All performance data (feed intake, body weight gain and feed conversion ratio) were negatively altered in experimental treatments, when compared to control, except for 1.50% Amm chloride (during the finisher period only) and 1.80% Amm. sulphate (throughout the experiment) groups. Serum analyses of glucose, liver and kidney function indices, and lipid profile were unaffected by the dietary treatments except ALT, total protein and albumin, which were influenced by high levels of ammonium sulphate at the finisher period. Therefore, Amm. sulphate can be used at a level of 1.80% in broiler diets substituting a portion of SBM, but Amm. chloride (1.50%) could be used only in the finisher period.


Keywords: Ammonium sulphate; Ammonium chloride; Soybean meal; Broilers  




Normal development and growth performance of poultry mainly depend on protein. Protein represents about 25 to 40% of the diet of animals and birds, it is responsible for half of the economic cost of the ration. Recently, because of the big expansion of population in all over the world and the shortage in feed resources mainly protein, it is become urgent to find out new replacements for protein in order to face this problem (Xing et al., 2018).   

Non-protein nitrogenous (NPN) substances are essential sources to supply ruminant animals with protein where the rumen bacteria are able to convert the nitrogen to protein. However, little information is available about the possibilities of using NPN sources as a partial protein substitute for broilers. Non-protein nitrogenous compounds are still unconventional item in poultry feeding unlike ruminant animals (Chowdhury et al., 1996).  

There are conflicting results concerning utilization of urea and other NPN compounds in poultry. Some studies reported that nitrogen from urea and diammonium citrate (DAC) could be utilized by chicks (Shannon et al., 1970; Karasawa, 1989a,b; Karasawa and Maeda, 1994). However, other researchers found no beneficial effects of urea nitrogen as well as DAC and dibasic ammonium (Amm.) phosphate in chicks (Isikwenu, 2012; Fallah et al., 2016) or fattening chickens (Prieto et al., 1978).

Baker and Molitoris (1974) observed that supplementation of diet with urea stimulated the growth of chicks. Moreover, Sibbald and Hamilton (1975) found that growing chicks can tolerate high levels of dietary urea (3-15 %) for several weeks without observing any evident signs of toxicity. Reduction in weight gain and decreases in feed efficiency may be explained on the basis of dietary dilution with urea. The authors claimed that there are no reasons to believe that the urea had any direct effect on the performance of the birds. Therefore, it is not clear from these findings whether the effect on performance of birds was due to urea or due to dilution of the diets.

The information about using ammonium salts in nutrition of poultry is rare. In this concern, Oyedeji et al. (2003) clarified that inclusion of Amm. sulphate in the ration of broiler with 1.0 to 3.0% resulted in a decrease in the feed intake but did not induce any alteration in the feed/gain ratio. The authors added that addition of Amm. sulphate was effective in the starter diet than in the finisher diet. On the other hand, Han et al. (2004) observed that Amm. chloride up to 1.0% did not influence the feed intake (FI) and feed efficiency in broilers.

There is a lack of information about using non-protein nitrogenous compounds especially ammonium salts in poultry diets. Therefore, the current study was complemented to assess the impact of inclusion of certain NPN substances (especially Amm. sulphate and Amm. chloride) in the diets of broilers on the performance and also on the liver and kidney functions. These compounds were used as sources of dietary nitrogen with a partial substitution of commonly used protein source (soybean meal) in poultry diets.


Materials and methods


Birds, management and nutrition

The present experiment was carried out at Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Beni-Suef University, Egypt.

A total of 201, day-old, broiler chicks (Hubbard, avian 43) were weighed and sorted to achieve equal starting weights (about 46 g) across all treatments. The chicks were divided into 3 groups; 51 chicks for control group and 75 chicks for each group of ammonium salts (Amm. chloride and Amm. sulphate (Sigma-Aldrich, USA) groups). In every group, the birds were allocated into three replicates, each with 17 birds in control and 25 in other groups. All chicks were housed in pens and were kept under similar management conditions. The birds were fed on control (containing no NPN source), Amm. chloride diet and Amm. sulphate diet. Amm. chloride (25.20% N) and Amm. sulphate (20.20% N) were used as a source of non-protein nitrogen, substituting portions of soybean meal in the diets. The protein equivalent (N X 6.25) of these compounds was 157.50% and 126.25% for Amm. chloride and ammonium sulphate, respectively. The experiment lasted for 7 weeks. During the starter period (0-3 weeks), the NPN substances were added to the diets at the rate of 1.50% Amm. chloride and 1.80% Amm. sulphate for Amm. chloride and Amm. sulphate diets, respectively. These compounds supplied the diets with about 2.30% crude protein (CP) of the total dietary protein. The levels of ammonium salts were used according to the results of Oyedeji et al. (2003) and Han et al. (2004).

During the finisher period (4-7 weeks), the birds in group 2 and 3 were subdivided into 3 subgroups, each with 21 birds (three replicates; 7 birds per replicate), whereas the control group (42 birds; 14 birds in each replicate) was kept as in the starter period without any NPN- supplement. Three graded levels of Amm. chloride and Amm. sulphate were added to group 2 and 3, respectively. In group 2, the birds were fed on a diet containing 1.50, 2.80 and 4.0% Amm. chloride, whereas in group 3, Amm. sulphate was added to the diet at 1.80, 3.50 or 5.0%.              

All experimental diets (Tables 1 and 2) were formulated to have nearly identical nutrient contents and to meet the nutrient requirements of broiler chicks according to NRC (1994). The diets were formulated to be isocaloric and isonitrogenous. Lysine and methionine were added to ensure that all diets provided a similar level of amino acids. Fat (soybean oil) was added at different levels to adjust energy density of the diets. The used NPN compounds provided about 2.30, 4.40 and 6.30% crude protein of the total dietary protein for the corresponding graded levels of NPN, respectively. The nutrient contents of different experimental diets were calculated according to NRC (1994) and the chemical composition is presented also in Table 1 and 2. Feed and water were available ad libitum throughout the experiment.


Table 1. Composition of diets fed to control and experimental birds during starter period (0-3 weeks; as fed)




Amm. Chloride (1.50%)

Amm. Sulphate (1.80%)

Yellow corn (%)