Over the years broiler chicken have been selected and genetically improved
to grow fast and this condition of fattening of birds is sometimes really stressful
resulting in impaired performance. Therefore, for a long time antibiotics have
been supplemented to animal diets to allow animals to cope better with harsh
conditions. The increase in resistance to antibiotics both in humans and animals
were ascribed partly to the feeding of growth promoting antibiotics which are
consumed indirectly by man as a result of the residual effect in animals administered
these drugs. This led to the ban of antibiotics in animal diets in the European
Union in 2006. Meanwhile, more states are considering the ban of these drugs
in animal nutrition (Grashorn, 2010).
In Nigeria and many other tropical and subtropical countries, there abound
many plants that have found widespread acceptance and utilization scientifically
as a way of improving the health status and performance of animals (Onu,
2012). In recent years, there has been particular interest in the antioxidant
ability and benefit of phytochemicals in vegetables and other tropical plant
feed ingredients which have been used for a large range of purpose including
nutrition, medicine, flavouring, amongst other industrial uses (Oboh,
Since pre-historical time, vegetables and herbs have been the basis of nearly
all medicinal therapy until synthetic drugs were developed in the 19th century
(Zheng and Wang, 2001). However, of recent increasing
emphasis is now being placed on the uses of natural drugs.
Supplementing diet with vitamins C and E, Zinc and Selenium can help protect
animals from free radical damages to some internal organs. Recently, conventional
medicine pursues a more integrated approach to managing disease(s) and promoting
growth. Natural products are being revisited and evaluated for their health
and growth promoting effects as well as reduction of free radicals in the body
system. Many vegetables contain health promoting constituents that are essential
to preventing diseases and maintaining a state of well-being (Appel
et al., 1997).
These vegetables and herbs contain phytochemicals, which possess significant
antioxidant capabilities to lessen the toxic load (Oxidative stress) in animals
by aggressively binding to various harmful substances including heavy metals.
The use of these vegetables along with other herbs is still increasingly being
examined because of the numerous phytochemicals in addition to antioxidant present
in them (Oboh and Akindahunsi, 2004).
Telfaira ocidentalis leaves are popularly consumed in many homes in
Nigeria as a result of the various medicinal potentials ascribed to the plant.
Preliminary investigation by Oboh (2005) revealed that
the leaf of this plant is very rich in phytochemicals and antioxidant activity
e.g., phenols and ascorbic acid. Many phenolics, such as flavonoids, have antioxidant
capacities that are much stronger than those of vitamins C and E. Favonols and
flavones are falavonoids of particular importance because they have been found
to possess antioxidant and free radicals scavenging activity in the feeds and
some research evidence has shown that flavonoids could protect cell membrane
lipids from oxidative damage (Amic et al., 2003).
Apart from the antioxidant properties of this plant (T. occidentalis)
and it leaves; its uses locally in the treatments of some ailment such as leukemia,
convulsion and anaemia have been reported by Omoregie and
Osagie (2002). As a result, there has been increased consumption of the
leaves or its water extract amongst anaemic and pregnant human with claims that
it increases the blood volume and potency.
This study therefore was designed to evaluate ways of mitigating anticipated
stress in broiler chicken as a result of the fast growth rate expected from
these broiler chickens using sun dried T. occidentalis leaves at varying
levels of supplementation in broiler chicken finisher diet.
The main objectives of this research therefore are:
||To assess growth performance of broiler chickens finisher
fed varying levels of sundried Telfairia occidentalis leaves as dietary
||To assess the effect of this treatments on the length of small intestine,
large intestine and other internal organs such as liver, heart and kidney
||And to evaluate the hemaetological response of the birds to the experiment
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This experiment was conducted in a commercial poultry farm situated in Benin
City, Edo State, Nigeria that lies between latitude 5° 45-7°N
and longitude 5°-6°52E, located in the rainforest zone of Nigeria
with an average annual rainfall of about 1500-2000 mm per annum, relative humidity
of about 75% with a mean temperature of 27°C. The experiment was conducted
between December, 2012 and January 2013 and lasted for 4 weeks.
||Proximate nutrient composition of broiler finisher diet used
in the experiment
|Metabolizable energy, 2900 Kcal, Source: Top feed broiler
||Proximate composition of Telfaira occidentalis leaves
|Values are expressed as mean values±SEM, Source: Omoregie
and Osagie (2002)
Preparation of pumpkin leaves (Telfaira occidentalis) meals and its
inclusion in the experimental diets: Freshly harvested T. occidentalis
leaves were separated from the stem, washed with clean water, drained, chopped
with sharp kitchen knives and sun dried (30-35°C) for seven days. The dried
leaves were then milled into powder form and stored in jute bag.
The Powdered Pumpkin Leaf Meal (PPLM) was then used to mix a commercially prepared
broiler finisher diets purchased from Top Feeds Nigeria Plc (a subsidiary of
life flower a multi-national company in Nigeria) at varying levels of dietary
supplementation. The varying levels of experimental diets supplementation were
Treatment 1: 0% level of inclusion (Control treatment)
Treatment 2: 5% level of inclusion of PPLM
Treatment 3: 10% level of inclusion and
Treatment 4: 15% level of inclusion
The proximate chemical composition of feeds and leaves used in the experiment
are as shown in Table 1 and 2, respectively.
Experimental design and management of birds: A total of 120 broiler
chickens of mixed sex, at 5 weeks of age were used for this experiment. Each
treatment was allotted 30 birds per treatment such that there were 10 birds
per replicate, thus having three replicate per treatment.
The experiment was therefore laid out in completely randomized design. Each
treatment groups of broiler chickens were housed in raised cage measuring 1.25x1.35
m, thereby providing a floor space of about 0.17 m square per bird.
The birds were fed and watered ad libitium, however, the quantity of
feeds offered everyday was measured and left over was also measured the following
morning (08.00 hr) before cleaning the feeder and watering trough. The difference
between feed offered and feed left over were recorded daily to compute total
feed intake by each experimental treatment group.
All other management practices applicable to broilers production (Oluyemi
and Vofet, 2007) were strictly adhered to in the course of the experiments.
Weekly body weight changes were recorded, with mortality if any recorded too,
on daily basis.
At the end of the experiment that lasted for 4 weeks, 3 birds per treatment
were isolated and fasted overnight for blood sample collection and thereafter
slaughtered for measurement of dressed internal organ weight and intestinal
Blood sample collection and analysis: Blood samples were collected from
three over-night fasted broiler chickens per treatment using syringe and needle
through the wing vein. Samples were collected into a set of sterilized tubes
containing Ethylene Diamin Tetra-acetic Acid (EDTA) labeled bottles as anti-coagulant,
for the analysis of haemotological parameters.
Packed Cell Volume (PCV), Red Blood Cell count (RBC), White Blood Cell count
(WBC) and Haemoglobin (HB) were determined using improved neubaur haemycytometer
after dilution and cyanomethamoglobin methods respectively as described by Dacie
and Lewis (1991). Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV), Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin
(MCH) and Mean Corpusular Haemoglobin Concentration (MCHC) were determine by
the method of Hyduke (1995).
Statistical analysis: Data generated were subjected to a one way Analysis
of Variance (ANOVA) and treatment means were compared using Duncans Multiple
Range Test as outline by Steel and Torrie (1990) with
the aid of SAS (1997) package.
Results on performances of broiler finisher fed varying levels of sun dried
T. occidentalis leaf meal as dietary supplements (Table
3) reveals that the average daily body weight gain as computed from the
differences between average final body weight gain and the average initial body
weight of birds were significantly influenced by the test diet, as birds on
the Control diet (Treatment 1) and those in Treatment 2 gave significantly (p<0.05)
higher body weight gains compared to Treatments 3 and 4.
||Performance of broiler finisher chicken fed varying levels
of sun dried T. occidentali leaf meal as dietary supplement
|a,b: Same row with different superscript are significantly
(p<0.05) different, ±SEM: Standard error of mean
||Heamatological responses of broiler finisher chicken fed varying
levels of sun dried T. occidentali leaf meal as dietary supplement
|a,b: Same row with different superscript are significantly
(p<0.05) different, ±SEM: Standard error of mean
||Digestive tract morphology and some internal organ weight
of broiler chicken feed varying levels of sun dried T. occidentalis
leaf meal as dietary supplement
|**Organs weight expressed as percentage of live weight of
chickens, a,b: Same row with different superscript are significantly (p<0.05)
different, ±SEM: Standard error of mean
Although, the values for feed conversion ratio in all the treatment were not
significantly (p>0.05) different, it shows that they were higher in all the
test diets (5, 10 and 15%) in which sun dried T. occidentalis leaf meal
was included as dietary supplements. The highest mortality was also observed
in the treatment 1 (Control), compared with other Treatment groups.
The various haematological values of broiler finisher fed sun dried T. occidentalis
leaf meal as dietary supplements as shown in Table 4 reveals
that packed cell volume (PVC%), mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH pg) and mean
corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC g dL-1) were significantly
(p<0.05) higher in all the treatment groups offered leaf meal supplemental
diet. Whereas, haemoglobin concentration Hb (g dL-1), Red Blood Cell
(x106 mm3), mean corpuscular volume (MCV f1) and White
Blood Cell (x106 mm3) were not significantly influenced
by the treatments.
Results on digestive tract morphology and some internal organ weight of broiler
fed varying levels of sun dried T. occidentalis leaf meal as dietary
supplement as shown Table 5 revealed that the small intestinal
length becomes progressively longer as the leaf meal inclusion increases in
the test diet and were significantly (p<0.05) longer in treatment 3 and 4
compared to Treatment 1 and 2. The large intestine was significantly (p<0.05)
shorter only in the Control group when compared with other broiler chickens
on supplementary diets (5, 10 and 15%).
Similarly, the size of the gizzard as express in percentage live body weight
of birds reveals that Treatment 1 had significantly (p<0.05) lower value.
Other internal organs, such as the heart, kidney, liver, lungs and pancreas
were not significantly (p>0.05) different in all the treatment groups, when
the internal organs were expressed as percentage of live body weight of broiler
The significantly higher (p<0.05) body weight observed in birds on Treatments
1 and 2 may be due to available protein and metabolizable energy in their diet
since increasing leaf meal supplementation in the diet of broiler finisher as
observed in Treatment 3 and 4 would have decreased available energy and protein
in their diets. Similar differences have been observed by Nworgu
et al. (2007) when broiler chickens were served with heat treated
pumpkin leaves extract supplement. Furthermore, increasing pumpkin leaf in the
diet of broiler would have lead to increase fibre levels in their diets and
according to Bray (1988) such high fibre in diets could
lead to lose stool and incipient diarrhea. It could also mean optimum levels
of utilized nutrient from supplements, while also reducing the bioavailability
of a number of minerals in the diet.
This go to show that the level of inclusion of pumpkin leaf meal in the diet
of broiler must be guided by the level of the leaf meal to be offered and in
this study five percent level of supplementation seems to give better performance
of broiler chickens in terms of average body weight gain and the overall feed
intake (Table 3).
The result shows that those broiler finisher offered pumpkin leaf meal supplement
at 5% level of inclusion compared favourably with the Control. Whereas, broiler
chickens on 10 and 15% levels of supplementation with T. occidentalis
gave significantly (p<0.05) depressed body weight gain. This observation
agrees with that reported by Khajarem et al. (1997)
when Veronia amaygdalina leaf meal was used as carotenoid in diet of
layers, they observed that 5% level of inclusion gave better results compared
to other levels of dietary inclusion.
Onu (2012) observed that there were significant (p<0.05)
differences in feed conversion ratio and body weight gain when aqueous extract
of pumpkin leaf was fed to broiler starter, this observation partially disagreed
with this current study as no significant different (p>0.05) was observed
in feed conversion ratio but only in body weight gain. This difference could
be due to differences in processing of the pumpkin leaf meal offered to the
broiler as well as the age of broiler, season of production, ecological region
To further buttress the importance of leaf meal in the diet of broiler finisher,
result from this study shows that mortality was highest in the control group
that were not offered any leaf meal. Leaf meal apart from serving the purpose
of food may also serve as medicine as their photochemical properties could impact
some medicinal value in the diets of animals (Grashorn,
The observed differences in the digestive tract morphology as shown in Table
4, reveal that the small intestinal length (cm) were reduced in the control
group and this may be due to the higher fibre content in the diets of broiler
in Treatments 3 and 4 since absorption of nutrients take place in the small
intestine, it tends to become longer when animals are fed high fibre diet (Uni
et al., 1999), this is to allow longer surface area of the intestinal
wall for nutrient absorption.
Since animal cannot go beyond their natural limit, the amont of the febre utilization
by broiler birds have been well documented and the implications of such high
fibrous feed in poultry are reduced body weight gain, poor nutrient utilization,
loose stool and incipient diarrhea (Abiola and Tewe, 1992;
Abiola and Adekunle, 2002; Bray,
1988). Similarly, the significantly decreased large intestinal length in
the Control diet may also be accounted for by the low fibre content in their
All the internal organ weights (in relation to life weight of birds) as presented
in Table 4, reveals that no significant (p>0.05) differences
exist in all the internal organs except in the gizzard that was significantly
(p<0.05) lower in treatment 1 compared to other treatment groups. This was
expected since the gizzard was the only organ closely associated with the digestive
tract in broilers. This finding agrees with previous study by Uni
and Ferket (2004) when they reported that cells of various organs of digestive
tract morphology tend to proliferate as they are more actively used during the
early stage of growth.
Haemotological responses of broiler finishers as shown in Table
5 reveals that all animals were in good health state since all blood parameters
were within normal range reported by several other authors (Imasuen
and Gene, 2008; Banerjee, 2008; Onu,
2012). The observed differences in parked cell volume, mean corpsular harmoglobin
and mean corpsular haemoglobin concentration may be due to slight difference
in the individual birds and not as a result of Dietary Treatments. This trend
can be buttress by the fact that the formed element of blood component cannot
be easily altered by nutrition but by disease and genetic makeup of individual
animals (Frandson et al., 2009).
The use of sundried pumpkin leaf meal as supplementary diet informed this study
and result shows that the leaf meal should not exceed 5% level of inclusion
in the diets of broiler finisher as any increase above this level may lead to
depressed growth performance. It was also observed that the method of processing
may influence the level of inclusion of pumpkin leaf in the diets of broiler
Furthermore, the use of pumpkin leaf as photochemical in the feeds of birds
should be further investigated as mortality rate in this experiment shows that
inclusion of pumpkin leaf meal in diet of broiler chickens may have some advantageous
effect on birds, since mortality was not recorded in all the groups of birds
fed pumpkin leaf meal supplemented diet.