Effect of nutritional enrichment with forage (Tridax procumbens) on the behavior and growth performance of conventionally reared broiler chickens
This study was undertaken to investigate the effect of the provision of forage in a short-term feeding trial on the behaviour and growth performance of broilers. A total of 32, 5 weeks old Marshall broilers (average weight of 1.2kg) of mixed sex were divided into two treatments namely concentrate and concentrate-forage fed birds, each treatment had 4 replicates (4 birds/replicate). Each replicate of birds were housed in separate pens (1.2 × 2.0 cm). During the feeding trial period (a 30 minute period, 4 times/week for 2 weeks), birds in treatment A were offered 200g of concentrate while those in treatment B were offered concentrate-forage (100 g each). Data were collected on the feeding and drinking behaviour, feed intake, water intake and weight gain. The behaviour of the birds was scanned at every 5 minute interval for 30 minute and the percentage of birds feeding or drinking was recorded. Weight gain was determined at the end of the 2 weeks experimental period. Data were analysed using SPSS statistical package (version 16). Result showed that the percentage of birds feeding was greater (P<0.001) in concentrate-forage fed than concentrate fed birds. Concentrate fed birds displayed higher (P<0.001) drinking behaviour than concentrate-forage fed birds. In addition, a greater percentage of concentrate fed birds were drinking and drank more (P<0.001) water compared to concentrate-forage birds. Concentrate-forage birds showed preference for concentrate than forage (P<0.05). In conclusion, feeding broilers concentrate and forage (Tridax procumbens) simultaneously improved the feeding behaviour of broilers by 17%, reduced concentrate intake by 34% without negatively affecting their weight gain. Hence, farmers could consider this as a strategy for conserving expensive feed resources.
Keywords: behaviour, body weight gain, broiler, concentrate, forage.