The experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of dietary supplemental chromium (Cr) on growth perfor- mance, meat quality, intestinal morphology, mucosa Hsp70 mRNA expression and antioxidant status of ducks reared under heat stress conditions. All ducks were randomly divided into three treatment groups, respectively, control group (Control, 23 ± 2 °C), heat stress group (HS, 32 ±2 °C), Cr picolinate group (CrPic, 32 ± 2 °C, 0.2 mg Cr/kg). Feed and distilled-deionized water were available ad libitum for an experimental phase of 35 days. Samples were collected on the day 14, 21 and 35 to determine biological and hematological values. Results showed that heat stress or dietary supplemental Cr both didn’t have distinct influence on growth performance (P>0.05), compared to controls. Ducks fed 0.2 mg Cr/kg diet had greater ultimate pH (pHu)(P<0.05) than HS group. At day 14, the ratio of villus height to crypt depth (V/C) in CrPic group significantly increased (P<0.05) than that of HS group in jejunum. Heat stress remarkably increased Hsp70 mRNA expression in jejunum compared with controls (P<0.05). While the expression of Hsp70 mRNA in CrPic group was significantly decreased compared with HS (P<0.05). At day 21, the V/C of ileum in CrPic group significantly increased compared with HS group (P<0.05). Serum SOD levels in CrPic group were significantly higher than those in HS group (P<0.05). At day 35, Hsp70 mRNA expression and serum T-SOD levels in CrPic group significantly increased compared with controls (P<0.05). T-AOC in HS group significantly decreased compared with controls (P<0.05). Results indicate that dietary Cr supplementation doesn’t influence ducks’ growth performance, but has a positive effect on meat quality, small intestine morphology, also regulates Hsp70 mRNA expression under heat stress conditions, and enhances the antioxidant status.
KEY WORDS: Chromium; Heat stress; Duck; Small intestine; Hsp70.