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This research was carried out to evaluate growth and haematology of Marshall and Arbor acre strains of broiler reared under the same housing system, feeding regime, and management practices in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Fifty broiler chickens consisting of twenty five Marshall strain and twenty five Arbor acre strain raised on deep litter, in separate pens, were used for the study. Linear and Haematological indices were determined at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks for both strains. Live weights and feed intake were determined in gram (g) from week 1 to week 8. The birds were reared for a period of 56days (8 weeks) and data obtained include body weight gain (This was determined as a difference between the final live weight and the initial live weight measured in gram with scale every week), feed intake (This was measured by determining the difference between the feed supplied and the left-over), feed conversion ratio, (This was determined by dividing feed intake by weight gain), average feed intake per bird, as well as protein intake. Analyzed results showed that strain had significant effect on live weight and feed intake evaluated on the two broiler chickens compared. The Arbor acre strain appeared superior to the Marshall strain in terms of final body weight (2370.83±93.30 vs 2207.83±98.40) as well as in feed intake (194.97±0.24  vs (87.66±0.64). At week 6 and 7 in particular, Arbor Acre significantly (P<0.05) grew heavier than Marshall, and it is suggested that selection for increased weight gain can be done at these weeks. Arbor acre therefore could be recommended to poultry farmers in Uyo for increased productivity and profit. The result of body weight and body linear measurements in both strains increased with advancement in age. Haemotological parameters analyzed include red blood cell (RBC), White Blood Cell (WBC), Haemoglobin (HB), Packed Cell Volume (PCV), Lymphocyte (LYMP), Monocytes (MONO), Eosinophils (EOSI) and Basophils (BASO), Platelets (PLT), and Neutrophils (NEUT). The haematological parameters of Marshall and Arbor acre showed no significant difference (p<0.05) from week2 to week4. There was a positive interaction between age and strain for erythrocytic values of Marshall strain. PLT, HB, PCV, and RBC were higher in Arbor acre at weeks 2 and 4, but lower at weeks 6 and 8.

Keywords:  Broiler, Strain, Poultry, Haematological parameters.


1.1 Background of the study

The broiler industry has undergone tremendous development and expansion during the last few decades. There has been marked increase in the body weight of broiler strains. Feed utilization by broilers has improved with the advancement in the technology applied to poultry nutrition as well as in genetics (Amao et al., 2011). This progress in breeding and nutrition has resulted in broiler strains having higher performances than was obtainable some years back.

As a primary source of animal protein, the poultry sector offers a valuable repository to bridge the gap between demand and the availability of balanced nutrition. In the last two decades poultry industry has played an important role in meeting the shortage of animal protein through the increased availability of eggs and meat in Nigeria (Amao et al., 2015).  In  many  developing  countries  of  the  world  including  Nigeria,  the  broiler  industry  plays  a  major role  in  supplying  the  population  with  meat  which  is  highly  nutritious  and  popularly  consumed (Ukwu, 2004).  The  broiler  chicken  in  Nigeria serves as the  major  source  of  protein  for  the population.  Despite  their  economic  importance,  poultry  production  is  affected  by  environmental factors  among  which  include  temperature,  humidity  and    nutrition  (Orunmuyi, 2006).  Evaluation of  performance  of  broiler  strains  is  carried  out  using  various  indices,  such  as  growth  traits  (body weight  and linear body measurements). The demand  for  poultry  meat  is  higher  because  of  its superiority  in  health  aspects  when  compared  to  red  meat, comparably  low  contents  of  fat  and  cholesterol, the  relatively low  price,  the  typical  convenient  portions  and  the  lack  of religious  restriction, according to Jaturashita,  (2004). Broiler  birds  are  usually  the  most universal  and  important  of  all  poultry  as  producers  of  meat for  human  consumption  (Oluremi  et  al.,  2009). Chicken meat is reported to be healthier than red meat, the breast meat of a chicken containing less than 3g fat/100g of meat whereas red meat contains about on an average 5-7g fat/100g (Dowarah,  2017). About half of these fats are more valuable mono-unsaturated fats, and only one third is less healthy saturated fats. In red meat there is much higher portion of harmful saturated fats that vary considerably in total fat content.  Amongst red meat, beef and mutton contain higher amount of trans-fats which causes coronary heart disease in human being, but chicken meat does not contain it, The consumption of red meat more than 500 g/week (particularly processed meat) may be unhealthy but not the chicken meat, which is suggested by the World Cancer Research Fund and others (Bingham, 2006). Moreover, poultry meat consumption also contributes to the overall quality of the diet in specific ages and conditions (prior to conception, during pregnancy up to the end of breastfeeding, during growth, and in the geriatric age).

Blood  can  be  used  as  diagnostic  tools  in order  to  assess  the  health  status  of  individual birds or  a  flock. Determination  of  blood  values  of  chicken  are  influenced by age,  sex,  breed,  climate,  geographical  location,  season,  day length,  time  of  day,  nutritional  status,  life  habitat  of  species, present  status  of  individual  and  such  other  physiological factors  (Islam  et  al.,  2004).  It is actually desirable  to  know  the  normal  blood  values  of  broiler chickens  under  local  conditions.

Why Arbor acre and Marshall?

CHI Commercial Day Old Arbor Acres and Marshall Broiler birds are fast growing and high-quality commercial meat birds with excellent conformation and tender breast meat according to Afrimash Poultry Services (2018).  According to them, the Arbor acre broiler has an excellent feed conversion rate and weight gain. They are bred for meat production. Arbor acre broiler is bred to produce chicken efficiently through consistent parent stock performance, excellent broiler performance, and good processing yield. It has excellent growth rate, breast conformation, feed conversion, and livability which helps the broiler farmers to make more profit. Afrimash Services went ahead to say that Marshall breed of broilers normally grow very tall and big, that they are well recommended for small-scale broiler chicken farmers who sell to the open market. They reach table size within six to eight weeks, depending on the quality of management as well as your target weight.

Moreso, Arbor acre and Marshall are very popular strains of broiler in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, and are usually readily available on order from commercial poultry farms.

1.2  Statement of problem     

There are series of problems facing the broiler industry, and hence the poultry industry at large. Despite the advancement in the sector, farmers, especially the small and medium scale producers of broiler birds operate at uncertainty. Apart from the routine vaccine programmes which have become so popular, producers can hardly tell for sure the general health status of their birds at any particular point in time. The reduction in the use of drugs, boosters and antibiotics is encouraged in broiler production for improved health of consumers. How will farmers know that the use of those drugs they intend to use is actually unnecessary at that particular point time even though it might seem conventional? How will they know that the performance of the broiler strains being reared is below normal range?

1.3 Objectives of the study

1. To determine the relationship between growth traits (body weight and linear body measurements) and haematological parameters in each of Marshall and Arbor acre strains of broilers.

2. To compare those relationships between the two strains of broiler.

3. To determine the influence of age on growth traits and haematological parameters of Marshall and Arbor acre.

4. To determine the effect of strain on growth and haematological parameters.

1.4  Justification of the study

Haematological  and  serum biochemical results have  been  reported  to  provide  valuable information  for  breeding  purposes  and  immune  status  of animals  (Ladokun,  2008).

It is  essential therefore to  draw  blood  profile from birds in different experimental situations. The  determination  of  blood  components by  laboratory  tests  is  an  important procedure  to assist  the  diagnosis  of  various  poultry  diseases and  disorders.  A wide availability of broiler blood profile information can help farmers ascertain health status of their birds through blood analysis.

With a view to create a baseline data on haematological  profiles and growth traits of broiler strains, some vital haematological and growth parameters of Marshall and Arbor acre have been estimated. The present results therefore will help in assessing broiler diseases, identifying healthy broilers, particularly Arbor acre and Marshall Strains and improving / designing appropriate breeding strategies for these broiler birds in Akwa Ibom State.

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