AUTHOR : OBIKAONU, HELEN OGECHI (PhD)
DEPARTMENT : ANIMAL SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY
AFFILIATION : FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, OWERRI
Experiments were conducted to determine the effects of dietary neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf meal on the performance of broilers and laying hens, their internal organ weights, haematological/serum biochemical constituents, meat quality of broilers and egg production and quality of the laying hens. Proximate analysis of the leaf meal showed that it contained 18.10% CP, 15.56% CF, 2.50% EE, 5.62% Ash and 58.22% NFE.
In the broiler experiment, five broiler starter (22% CP) and finisher (19% CP) diets were used containing neem leaf meal at 0, 2.5, 5.0, 7.5 and 10.0% levels, respectively. A separately but similar experiment was conducted during which no coccidiostat was added in the diets to determine the efficacy of the leaf meal as anti-coccidial agent in broiler diets. In the layers experiment, 5 layers white maize-based diets were used with neem leaf dietary levels as in the broiler trial.
At the starter phase, feed intake of the groups increased as the dietary level of the leaf meal increased up to 5.0% level but dropped at 7.5% and 10% dietary levels Growth rate significantly (P < 0.05) dropped at 7.5% level. Feed conversion ratio was also significantly (P < 0.05) depressed by the dietary leaf meal at 7.5 and 10.0% levels. Similarly, protein efficiency ratio was significantly (P < 0.05) depressed as from 5.0% level. The leaf meal tended to reduce Hb and PCV of the birds but not below the level considered normal for birds. No traces of monocytes, eosinophils and basinophils were observed. Blood glucose was raised by the leaf meal but cholesterol was significantly (P < 0.05) depressed. Alanine Transaminase (ALT), Aspartate Transaminase (AST) and Alkaline Phosphate (ALP) decreased with increase in leaf meal level. At the finisher level, feed intake significantly (P < 0.05) increased as from 5.0% levels, while the body weight decreased steadily. Both the feed conversion ratio and protein efficiency ratio were significantly (P < 0.05) depressed as from 2.5% neem dietary level. Unlike at the starter phase, Hb, RBC and PCV of the blood were not affected by the treatments (P > 0.05). ESR and platelets were significantly enhanced (P < 0.05) as the dietary level of the leaf meal increased as from 5.0% level. MCV, MCH, MCHC, WBC, neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils and monocytes were not affected by the treatments (P > 0.05). Like in the starter phase, the blood sugar increased with increase in the dietary leaf meal but cholesterol tended to increase in reverse order. Other serum biochemical indices did not follow any definite pattern. Internal organs of the groups were not affected by the treatments (P > 0.05). There were also no significant (P > 0.05) differences in tenderness, juiciness, flavour and hedonic of the meat of the groups (P > 0.05). There was also no indication that neem leaf meal had any effect as an agent for control of coccidiosis in broilers.
The feed intake of the laying hens increased with increase in the dietary leaf meal and became significant (P < 0.05) as from 5% dietary level. Hen-day egg production dropped at 2.5% level but picked up as from 5.0% level. Egg weight increased steadily as the dietary level of the leaf meal increased but the differences were not significant (P > 0.05). Feed conversion ratio was significantly (P > 0.05) depressed as from 7.5% dietary level. Egg yolk pigmentation increased with increase in dietary leaf meal and scored highest (6.86) at 10% dietary level. Egg yolk and albumin indices as well as Haugh unit and egg shell thickness were not affected by the treatments (P > 0.05). The leaf meal tended to decrease the Hb, RBC, PCV and MCHC but enhanced the platelets of the blood. WBC, monocytes, eosinophils and basinophils were not affected by the treatments (P > 0.05). Blood sugar, cholesterol, protein, albumin and globulins did not follow any pattern.
It is therefore concluded that neem leaf meal could be incorporated in broiler diets but not beyond 5%. Laying hens tended to tolerate it at higher levels.
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