It was hypothesized that dietary copper (Cu) nanoparticles, as a substitute for the commonly used copper sulfate, could contribute to lowering the dietary inclusion levels of Cu without compromising growth performance or reducing Cu digestibility and utilization in turkeys. An experiment was carried out on 648 one-day-old Hybrid Converter turkeys divided into 6 groups with 6 replicates per group in a two-factorial design with 3 dietary inclusion levels of Cu (20, 10 and 2 mg kg−1) and 2 dietary sources of Cu, copper sulfate and Cu nanoparticles (Cu-SUL and Cu-NPs, respectively). The apparent digestibility coefficients of minerals were determined after 6 weeks, and tissue samples were collected after 14 weeks of experimental feeding. A decrease in the dietary inclusion levels of Cu from 20 to 10 and 2 mg kg−1 did not reduce the body weights of turkeys at 42 and 98 days of age. In comparison with the remaining treatments, the lowest dietary inclusion level of Cu significantly decreased MDA concentrations in small intestinal tissue (P=0.002) and in the bursa of Fabricius (P=0.001). The replacement of Cu-SUL with Cu-NPs differentially modulated the redox status of selected tissues, i.e., enhanced SOD activity in small intestinal tissue (P=0.001) and decreased total glutathione levels in the bursa of Fabricius (P=0.005). In general, neither the different levels nor sources of additional dietary Cu (main factors) exerted negative effects on the histological structure of the duodenum and jejunum in turkeys. The intestinal digestibility of Cu increased with decreasing dietary Cu levels, and as a consequence, the highest apparent digestibility coefficient of Cu (and zinc) was noted in turkeys fed diets with the addition of 2 mg kg−1 Cu-NPs. Therefore, the environmental burden of excreted Cu was substantially reduced along with decreasing dietary Cu levels but it did not depend on the Cu source.
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