Response of broiler chickens fed diets containing loofah gourd Luffa cylindrical (M.J. Roem) seed meal
The scarcity and increasing cost of conventional plant protein sources prompted researches into potential feed resources that are relatively of less importance to man. Loofah gourd (Luffa cylindrical (M.J. Roem) is a plant that is widely available in most tropical, subtropical and temperate region. In Nigeria it grows luxuriantly uncultivated and the sponge is often used for domestic cleaning while the seeds are discarded. The seeds were de-hulled, milled and fed at 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20% dietary levels of inclusion as partial/total replacement for groundnut cake. One hundred and fifty (150) day-old broiler chicks were divided into five (5) groups and each was fed the experimental diets for fifty six (56) days in a completely randomised design (CRD) arrangement. Data collected included the average feed intake (AFI), average weight gain (AWG), live weight (LW) feed conversion ratio (FCR), protein efficiency ratio (PER), haematology indices such as pack cell volume (PCV), red blood cell count (RBC), white blood cell count (WBC) and haemoglobin (Hb), serological variables such as Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartic aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and carcass characteristics. Loofah gourd seed meal (LGSM) significantly (P<0.05) depressed the feed intake, weight gain, live weight, and protein efficiency ratio of the birds as the dietary inclusion of LGSM increased in a similar trend. AFI, AWG, and PER were significantly highest (P<0.05) in birds on the control group (125.88 g/day, 51.37 g/day, and 1.81 respectively) and lowest in those on 20% LGSM (62.88 g/day, 19.35 and 1.39 respectively). PCV and Hb were significantly highest (P<0.05) in birds on the control group (10.46 g/dl and 34% respectively) and lowest in those on 15% LGSM (21%) and 10%LGSM (6.98g/dl) respectively. Birds fed with the control diet had the lowest (P<0.05) AST (86.13 U/I), ALT (5.67 U/I) and ALP (112,338.90) and those on 20% LGSM had the highest AST (104.18 U/I), ALT (10.98 U/I) while the highest ALP (201,762.90) was in birds fed 10% LGSM. Weight of liver and spleen expressed as percentage of live weight were significantly lowest in birds on the control group (1.38 and 0.18 respectively) and highest in those on 15% LGSM (4.08 and 1.50 respectively). The increased in liver and spleen weight coupled with increased serum enzymes activities suggest the presence of anti-nutrient in LGSM. Hence, the use of LGSM beyond 5% level of inclusion is not beneficial in the production of broiler.
Keywords: Loofah gourd seeds, Broiler, Growth performance, Carcass characteristics, Haematology, serology