Evaluating whole grain millet feeding in broiler-starter chicks at 0-21days post hatch
A 21-d investigation was conducted to ascertain the effect of 50% whole millet grain replacement for milled millet on growth performance, gastrointestinal conditions and development in broiler chickens. Eighty-four one-day-old unsexed broiler chicks were randomly allotted to two treatment groups with 7 replicates of 6 chicks per replicate. Two diets; whole millet diet (WM), consisting of 50% of the millet provided as whole grain, and the ground millet diet (GM), as the control, were formulated and fed ad-libitum throughout the study period. Performance data: feed intake, daily live weight gain and feed conversion ratio were recorded weekly, i.e. at 7, 14 and 21d, while gastrointestinal assessment: jejunal, digesta pH, relative weights of the proventriculus, gizzard, pancreas and liver, and jejunal and ileal morphometry were conducted on 21d. Similarities (p > 0.05) were observed in the growth performance, digesta pH and relative weight and length of duodenum, jejunum, ileum and caeca for chickens in both treatments. A 25.7% increase in gizzard weight was observed in chickens on WM, as well as significant (p < 0.05) increases in jejunal and ileal height and jejunal villus width were recorded on the chickens. A significant reduction in flock uniformity was observed in chickens fed the whole millet diet at 14d. It could therefore be concluded that 50% whole millet grain replacement for milled millet resulted in similar growth performance and improved gastrointestinal function and activity in 21-d post hatch chickens.
Keywords: Whole grain feeding; Pennisetum glaucum; gastrointestinal function; gizzard development; alternative feeds and feeding