One of the major problems that limit the development of poultry industry in the Sudan is the higher cost of poultry feed. Poultry feed accounts for about 75% of total feed cost. The poultry industry uses antibiotics to improve meat production, due to their detrimental effects on animal and human health the European Union has banned their use as growth promoters since January 20061. Hence, the ban on the use of antibiotics has forced poultry producers to find viable alternatives with similar benefits to antibiotics. Recently, herbs are used in a wide range as a feed supplements to enhance growth performance. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) is one of these herbs that have a role in improving the growth performance of poultry birds by their antibacterial activity and positive effect on gut morphology. Yasothai2 reported that fenugreek seeds contain crude protein (12.9-34.1%), crude fiber (4.7-14.8%), ether extract (4.5-12%), total ash (2.6-7.6) and nitrogen free extract (36.8-57.5%). Xue et al.3 reported that fenugreek seed reduce the blood glucose and blood lipid levels and improve hemorheological effects in diabetic rats. Also, Murlidhar and Goswami4 observed its anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, antibacterial, gastric stimulant and anti-anorexia effects in addition to its uses as food stabilizer, adhesive and emulsifying agent. Improvement in broilers growth performance has been recorded due to inclusion of fenugreek seed to their diets. Khan et al.5 stated that the addition of fenugreek at the rate of 30 mL L1 aqueous extract accelerate muscle growth of broilers. Toaha et al.6 studied the influence of addition of fenugreek to the broilers diet versus addition of antibiotic growth promoters. Authors6 observed that the diet supplemented with fenugreek improved the productive performance, reduced the feed cost and increased profit as compared to diet supplemented with antibiotic growth promoters. Tag El-Din et al.7 observed the increase in rabbit growth due to the use of dietary fenugreek.
The main objective of the present study was to determine the effect of dietary supplementation of fenugreek seeds on the growth performance and carcass characteristics of broilers.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The site and experimental birds: The experiment was conducted at the poultry unit (open-house system) of Faculty of Agricultural Technology and Fish Sciences, University of Alneelain, Jebal-Awlia, Khartoum, South.
A total of 120 one-day-old unsexed commercial (Ross 308) broiler chicks were purchased from a commercial hatchery. Birds were weighed (43.5±1.7 g) and randomly assigned to 12 floor pens (1 m2 each) littered with wood shavings.
Experimental diets: Three experimental diets were formulated, diet A (control diet) was free of fenugreek seeds (0.0%), diets B and C were supplemented with 0.50% and 0.75% fenugreek seeds respectively. Each dietary treatment was fed to 40 birds (10 birds×4 replicates). Four isocaloric and isonitrogenous starter and finisher diets were formulated according to nutrient specifications of National Research Council8. Pre-starter diet was offered for the first 5 days. Then chicks were fed on starter diets till the third week. After that chicks were offered a finisher diets. The composition of starter and finisher diets are presented in Table 1 and 2, respectively.
Management: Each pen was equipped with 1 metallic drinker and 1 metallic tubular feeder. Feed and water were provided ad libitum. Drinkers and feeders were kept clean and regularly leveled using red brick, cuboids. A continuous lighting was used throughout the experimental period by a combination of natural and artificial light. The bulbs were hanged about one foot above the floor during the first two weeks and then maintained to about 6 feet. The birds were vaccinated (IB+Newcastle clone) at 5 days of age, and infections bursal disease (Gumboro) vaccine was given at 14 days of age, and replicated at 21 days of age and Newcastle disease vaccine at 28 days of age.
Experimental procedures: Weekly feed intake, live body weight and body weight gain were determined on replicate basis. Feed conversion ratio (FCR) was calculated as feed intake per weight gain. Protein efficiency ratio (PER) was calculated as weight gain per protein consumed. Mortality was recorded as it occurred. At the end of the experiment (6 weeks of age), the birds were weighed after overnight fasting. Two birds from each pen were randomly selected and manually slaughtered for carcass characteristics determination.
Experimental design and statistical analysis: The data were analyzed using the General Linear Model procedure of Statistical Analysis System (SAS)9 with a Completely Randomized Design (CRD). Duncan’s multiple range test10 was used to test the significant difference among treatment means. The level of statistical significance was pre-set at p<0.05.
Starter period (0-3 weeks): Effect of fenugreek seeds supplementation in the diet of broilers on the feed consumption, weight gain, feed conversion ratio and protein efficiency ratio during starter period are shown in (Table 3). Broiler diet supplemented with 0.75% of fenugreek seeds increased feed consumption and weight gain when compared to the control diet, however, differences were non-significant (p≥0.05). The diet supplemented with 0.50% of fenugreek seeds increased (p≥0.05) feed conversion ratio compared to the control diet, but the increase was not significant. However, the diet supplemented with 0.50% of fenugreek seeds produced non-significant improvement (p≥0.05) in protein efficiency ratio.