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Two hundred and forty 14-day old broiler birds were used in a study conducted to investigate the physiological response of boiler birds to oral supplementation with aloe vera gel and neem leaf extracts. In experiment one, one hundred and twenty 14- day old broilers were used to assess the physiological response of the broiler birds to oral supplementation with alovera gel extract, while in experiment two, one hundred and twenty 14- day old broilers were used to assess the physiological response of the broiler birds to oral supplementation with neem leaf extract. The birds of both sexes were randomly allotted into five treatment groups of 24 birds each in a completely randomized design (CRD) in both experiments. Treatments 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 received ordinary water, Vitaltye, 10, 20, and 30% of each of the two extracts, respectively. Results obtained in experiment one showed that there were significant (p<0.05) differences in final body weight, feed conversion ratio, average cost/kg gain and mortality rate. Birds on T4(20%AVGE) had the lowest feed conversion ratio(3.09) and lower average cost of feed per kg gain(N308.67) than others with feed conversion ratio [ T1(3.36), T2(3.46),T3(3.21) and T5(3.18), and average cost of feed per kg gain [T1((N336.33), T2(N345.67), T5(N317.66), respectively. There were significant (p<0.05)differences among treatments in packed cell volume, red blood cells, hetrophil, lymphocyte, moncyte, eosnoohil, and basophil. There were also significant (p<0.05) differences among treatments in crude protein, ether extract and nitrogen free ether retained; significant differences existed among treatments in total protein, albumin globulin, glucose, creatine, cholesterol and calcium. Live body weight, dressed weight (%LW), head, gizzard, empty gizzard, shank, heart, liver, kidney, abdominal fat, lungs, and large intestine were significantly affected by treatments. However, there were no significant (p<0.05) differences among treatments in average daily weight gain, average daily feed intake, daily water intake, protein efficiency ratio, white blood cell, dry matter retained, dressed weight(kg), and small intestines. Birds that received neem leaf extract (T4 and T5) showed progressive increase in final body weight (3.42kg and 3.70kg, respectively) compared to the control (3.14kg) and T2 [(vitalyte) (3.39kg)]. Birds on T5(30%NLE) had the lowest feed conversion ratio(2.85) and lower average cost of feed per kg gain(N284.67) than others which had feed conversion ratio of 3.48 (T1), 3.21 (T2), 3.29 (T3) and 3.15 (T4), and average cost of feed per kg gain as follows:T1(N347.67), T2(321.00), and T4(N315.33). There were significant (p<0.05) differences among treatments in packed cell volume, red blood cells, hetrophil, lymphocyte, moncyte, eosnoohil, and basophil. Significant differences (p<0.05) also existed between treatments in the apparent retentions of crude protein, ether extract and nitrogen free ether, and in total protein, albumin, globulin, glucose, cholesterol and calcium. There were also significant (p<0.05)differences among treatments in live weight, dressed weight(%LW), head, gizzard, empty gizzard, shank, heart, liver, kidney, abdominal fat, lungs, large intestine and small intestine. However, there were no significant (p<0.05) differences among treatments in average daily feed intake, total water intake, dry matter retained, and serum creatine. Results showed that the levels of aloe vera gel and neem leaf extracts used in the present study enhanced the growth performance of broiler birds, especially at 20% and 30% inclusions.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Poultry is on the fastest means to achieving appreciable improvement in the nutritional standard of the populace because of its short generation interval, quick turnover rate and relatively low capital investment (Smith, 2001; Ani and Okeke, 2011)
Nutrition is the most important consideration in any livestock enterprise. Its survival is dependent on the availability of feedstuffs, which are mainly components of human food. The unavailability of grains and the high cost of imported ingredients have made the price of commercial animal feed to increase over 300%. These problems remain the most important constraints to the expansion of commercial poultry production in Nigeria.
The high cost of conventional feedstuff has already sent a lot of livestock farmers out of business, thus leading to reduction in overall animal protein production and availability for humans dietary’s need. The provision of feed alone has been reported to account for 60-80% of total cost of livestock production in developing countries alone (Igboeli, 2000; Esonu, 2006). In view of this, there is increased interest by poultry farmers on the search for non conventional feed ingredients that could be cheaper such as leaf and seed meals of ethno medicinal plants (Okoli et al., 2001, 2002). The use of various plant extracts in broiler production has been documented (Essien et al; 2007; Nworgu et al 2007; Galib and Noor, 2010). One way is to look for alternative source of feed supplement that is not only cheap and could boost the growth of chickens but organic and readily available.
In an effort to develop new feedstuff for animal feeding, a number of researchers have investigated the proximate composition of neem seed cake (Bawa et al., 2006; Uko and Kamalu, 2001), leaf meal (Oforjindu, 2006; Esonu et al., 2005, 2006; Ogbuewu et al., 2010a, b) and its use as feedstuff in poultry (Esonu et al., 2005; Oforjindu, 2006; Uko and Kamalu, 2007) and rabbits (Sokunbi and Egbunike, 2000a; Ogbuewu, 2008). Result of proximate analysis of neem showed that of had 92.42% dry matter, 7.58% moisture, 20.68% crude protein, 16.60% crude fibre, 4.13% ether extract, 7.10% ash and 43.91% nitrogen free extract (Esonu et al., 2005; Oforjindu, 2006; Ogbuewu, 2008).
Neem cake has also been widely used as animal feed (Bawa et al., 2006; Uko and 2007). Despite the bitter components, poultry consume diets containing varied percentage of neem cake. Alkali treatment of neem cake with caustic soda yields palatable product, by removing the toxicant triterpenoids (Devakumar and Dev, 1993). Nagalakshmi et al. (1996) and Verma et al. (1998) reported beneficial effect of alkali treated (10-20 g NaOH) neem kernel cake incorporated into poultry feeds. It resulted to an increased feeding value and protein utilization with spectacular growth. However, no significant difference was observed among the different dietary groups in feed intake, egg production, egg quality, fertility, hatchability and chick weight (Nagalakshmi et al., 1996; Verma et al. 1998).
Neem oil and de-oiled neem seed cake are used as animal feed. Neem oil which is rich in long chain fatty acids is used in poultry feed. Deoiled neem seed cake is rich in essential amino acids, crude proteins, fiber contents, sulphur and nitrogen (Uko and Kamalu, 2007
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) belongs to the family of lily; It is spiky, succulent, and perennial. It is native to the eastern and southern part of Africa but it has spread throughout the warmer regions of the world like the Philippines. Physically, it is a short-stemmed plant that could grow from 80 to 100 cm tall, spreading by offsets and root sprouts. The leaves are lanceolate, thick and fleshy with thorny edges and with color ranging from deep green to greygreen.
It is ubiquitous in almost every house garden and is either used as accents for landscaping or for its medicinal value. Since it is easy to grow and maintain, it is widely used as natural ground cover or container. Aloe vera is not only a natural healer; it’s also a growth enhancer in poultry. Hearing that, one might think, it’s too good to be true. Essentially, the leaves of aloe vera are often for external uses only, they are not meant to be taken in. But with the study of Bejar and Colapo, it’s now clear that it’s safe for animal intake. Thus, it is important to know what’s in the aloe vera that makes it both a natural healer and a growth promoter in chickens.
Physically, the leaf of an aloe vera is composed of three layers. The first layer contains a clear gel, which is contained within the cells of the inner portion. Then there is the anthraquinones contained in the bitter yellow sap of the middle leaf layer and the fibrous outer part of the leaf that serves a protective function.
The content of the aloe vera leaf is just 0.5 – 1.5% solid, with an average pH value of 4.55. This solid material contains over 75 different nutrients including vitamins and minerals.
Aloe vera is rich in vitamins and minerals. Specific vitamins include: Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene), Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Choline, and Folic Acid. The vitamins A, C, and E are responsible for the aloe’s antioxidant activity while vitamin B and choline are involved in amino acid metabolism and vitamin B12 is required for the production and development of blood cells.(source Rita dela cruz of www.bar.gov.ph)
Among the important minerals found in aloe vera are: calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium, and zinc. These minerals are essential for good health and are known to work in synergistic combinations with each other, with vitamins and other trace elements. . (source Rita dela cruz of www.bar.gov.ph
Aside from vitamins and minerals, aloe vera is rich with enzymes (help the breakdown of food sugars and fats), hormones (aid in healing and antiinflammatory activities), sugars (i.e. glucose and fructose that provide antiinflammatory activity), anthraquinones or phenolic compounds (aid absorption from gastro-intestinal tract and have antimicrobial and pain killing effects), lignin (increases the blood circulation), saponins (provide cleansing and antiseptic activity), sterols (antiseptic and analgesic), amino acids (basic building blocks of proteins in the production of muscle tissue), and salicylic acid (works as a pain killer)(source: T. Rita dela cruz of www.bar.gov.ph).
Although the use of various plant extracts in broiler production has been documented, there is paucity of information on the growth and physiological response of broiler birds to oral supplementation with aloe vera and neem leaves extracts.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM.
Achieving maximum health and performance of poultry requires nutritionally balanced diets. One of the common issues with regard to back yard flocks relates to poor or inadequate feeding programs that can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the birds. Since vitamins and minerals are very important to normal physiological functioning of birds, inadequate supply of these nutrients will pose a serious problem to birds. It is also costly to use commercial produced vitamins hence increasing the cost of poultry production.
1.3. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY.
The study aimed at determining the physiological response of broiler birds to oral supplementation with aloe vera and neem leaf extracts as supplementary sources of vitamins and minerals to broiler birds.
1.4 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY.
As indicated above, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can produce numerous health problems for chickens including death in some cases. Thus, to prevent nutritional deficiencies, or to correct when deficiency symptoms are noted, feeding a balanced poultry ration with the required vitamins and minerals should be practiced. Besides, oral administration of vitamins and minerals to birds is inevitable especially in the time of stress and outbreak of diseases. The use of aloe vera and neem leaves extracts in broiler production is a step in the right direction since they are of potential sources of these essential nutrients that are necessary for normal well being, growth and development of birds.
The study was to:
- Determine the effect of alovera gel and Neem leaf extracts on growth performance of broiler starter and finisher birds.
ii. Determine the effect of alovera gel and Neem leaf extracts on mortality, blood and biochemical parameters of broiler starter and finisher birds.
iii. Determine the effect of alovera gel and Neem leaf extracts on carcass yield and organ weights of broiler starter and finisher birds.
iv. Determine the cost implication of oral supplementation with aloe vera and neem leaf extracts as supplementary sources of vitamins and minerals.
2.1 Broiler breeders and their management
Broiler, also known as Cornish Cross, is a type of chicken raised specifically for meat production. Produced by fast-growing breeds with low mortality, broilers can be reared successfully in standard housing conditions on readily available, custom-formulated broiler feed rations.
Cross Breed For Parent Stock (Broiler Breeders)
Consumers expect the meat from broilers to be tender and of high quality. The whole broiler production process is designed for this requirement but the same inputs are at odds with those required for egg production by broiler breeders. The three main steps and stages in the whole broiler production process are:
• rearing and managing broiler breeders (i.e. the birds that produce eggs for hatching into broiler chicks),
· fattening of broiler chicks
· marketing and processing of finished broiler birds
The broiler producer clearly requires birds that will achieve a high body weight, with good carcass quality, over the shortest possible period of time using the minimum amount of regular feed. In addition the producer also wants birds that possess the correct body conformation, which will feather rapidly and have a minimal mortality rate.
Selection and breeding for fast growth rates in broilers form the most important processes in the world poultry industry. Male broilers achieve rapid gain from the start, and at 6 weeks of age can weigh in at 2kg (live-weight). Female birds will tend to grow at a slower rate but this has definite marketing advantages because overall consumer demand is for broiler carcasses of various weights. It is not the amount of food consumed but the efficiency of feed utilisation and food conversion into body tissue which underpins the growth rate.
Broiler producers tend to plump for white feathered strains because they result in a ‘cleaner-looking’ carcass after processing. But there are instances where production management considerations outweigh this and coloured-feathered strains are preferred. Examples include broiler production in countries with high rainfall and the indigenous soil is red. In these situations, red/brown Rhode Island Reds may be the most sensible choice. Feather cover must be good to maintain insulation and restrict heat loss from the body, as well as minimizing incidence of skin blistering which ruins marketability of processed birds.
Many modern strains of broiler will produce yellow fat because they have been custom-bred for the American market. In markets where yellow fat is undesirable, producers should remove carotene and carotenoid pigments (coloured chemicals) from the ration. Similarly, factors that determine carcass quality in one country may not suit another. For instance, consumers in some countries may consider the body conformation, texture and taste of carcasses high quality by ‘Western’ standards to offer an unattractive and insufficiently chewy eating experience. For supermarket sales in general, breast meat should be broad and deep. Many such problems are overcome by incorporating local strains into cross breeding programmes to produce appropriate broiler parents stock.
Biosecurity involves the total management of a flock or herd of livestock in a manner that promotes their well-being and prevents the establishment and the spread of diseases. Starting with good-quality stock is an important first step. Whether stock is bought as day-old chicks, as grown birds, or as eggs, they should be purchased from companies or hatcheries that are part of the National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP). The NPIP ensures that birds are free of certain diseases.
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