Comparative evaluation of hydroponic maize fodder and conventional basal diet on performance, digestibility and blood profile of weaned pigs
High cost of conventional feedstuffs has resulted to the need to exploit the diverse feed resources for improved sustainability in swine production. Hydroponic sprouts which undergo nutritional modification during the sprouting process are a good source of nutrients that could improve the performance of pigs. Hence, nutrient digestibility, performance, haematological and serum biochemical parameters of weaned pigs fed hydroponic maize fodder (HMF) and conventional basal based diets were studied. Thirty-six (36) crossbred weaned pigs were randomly allotted to three treatments with four replicates each in a completely randomized design. Treatment 1 (T1) had 50% hydroponically grown maize sprouts + 50% concentrate, Treatment 2 (T2) had 100% hydroponically grown maize sprouts and Treatment 3 (T3) had 100% basal diet (cassava peel +palm kernel cake +brewery dried grain). The experiment lasted 6 weeks. Significant differences (P<0.05) were observed in the apparent digestibility of nutrients, performance and blood profile of pigs across dietary treatments. T1 had higher (P<0.05) apparent crude protein digestibility (65.76%) while the lowest (55.27%) was observed in T2 with a similar trend observed for apparent crude fibre digestibility. Apparent ether extract digestibilitywas higher (P<0.05) in T2 (68.43%) and lowest in T3 (65.47%) while ash digestibility was (P<0.05) highest in T3 (46.08%). Significantly higher values were obtained in T3 for final weight (13.83kg), feed intake (12.79kg) and weight gain (3.83kg) while least values were observed in T2. However, T1 had the highest value for FCR (3.68kg) while comparable valueswere obtained for feed cost/weight gain in pigs fed T1 and T3. T1 had higher (p<0.05) RBC (5.73×10 μl), WBC (1.80×10 μl), lymphocytes (69%) and eosinophils (3.67%) values while lowest values were obtained in T2 for PCV (34.67%), RBC (5.08×10 μl) and lymphocytes (56.33%). Significant differences (P<0.05) were also observed for cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, VLDL, total protein, globulin and albumin while glucose and HDL showed no differences (P>0.05). All values obtained for haematology and serum biochemical parameters were within the normal physiological range of the animals.In conclusion, hydroponics maize fodder when combined with concentrate feed had a positive impact on nutrient digestibility and performance of pigs. Also, haematological and serum biochemical indices of pigs were not negatively affected.