Influence of diet on the hematology and serum biochemistry of zinc-intoxicated mallards

Jeffrey M. Levengood, Glen C. Sanderson, William L. Anderson, George L. Foley, Patrick W. Brown, James W. Seets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changes in hematological and serum biochemistry parameters in female zinc (Zn)-dosed farm-raised mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) fed four different diets were examined. Sixty ducks received an average dose of 0.97 g of Zn in the form of eight, 3.30-mm diameter shot pellets containing 98% Zn and 2% tin, and another 60 ducks were sham-dosed as controls. Fifteen ducks from each of the two dosing groups were assigned to one of four dietary treatments: corn only, corn with soil, commercial duck ration only, or commercial duck ration with soil. Shot-pellet dissolution rates ranged from 7 mg/Zn/day to 27 mg/Zn/day. Regardless of diet, the Zn dose resulted in mortality; incoordination; paralysis and anorexia; decreased body, liver, pancreas, gonad, and gizzard weight; increased kidney weight; and macroscopic lesions. Zn-dosed ducks had a lower mean erythrocyte packed cell volume (PCV), higher mean reticulocyte count, and a greater number of individuals with immature and/or abnormal erythrocytes, than did control mallards. Mean total leucocyte counts were higher in Zn-dosed ducks than in controls. Zn-dosed ducks that had soil available had higher leucocyte counts than those without soil. Zn-dosed ducks were characterized by a marked heterophilia and relative lymphopenia. In Zn-dosed ducks, the mean lymphocyte count was highest in those provided a commercial duck ration, and lowest in those fed corn. In control ducks, the mean lymphocyte count was highest in ducks fed corn, and lowest in those provided soil along with a commercial duck ration. Zn-dosed mallards had higher serum aspartate aminotransferase and amylase levels, and lower alkaline phosphatase activities than control ducks. Serum phosphorus and uric acid concentrations were higher, and calcium, glucose, and total protein levels lower, in Zn-dosed ducks than in control ducks. Diet did affect serum calcium, phosphorus, total protein, and uric acid concentrations. Differences in erythrocyte and leucocyte parameters, serum enzyme activities, and metabolite concentrations were associated with dose and diet effects. Diets high in protein and other organic matter and calcium and phosphorus did not prevent or substantially alleviate Zn toxicosis in farm-raised mallard ducks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of wildlife diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Anas platyrhynchos
  • Clinical pathology
  • Hematology
  • Mallard
  • Nontoxic shot
  • Serum biochemistry
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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