Growth Indices and Apparent Nutrient Digestibility in Rabbits Fed Graded Levels of Moringa (Moringa oleifera) Leaf Meal.
The chemical composition of moringa leaf meal, growth performance and nutrient digestibility of growing rabbits fed graded levels of moringa leaf meal (MLM) were investigated. The MLM was incorporated in rabbit diet at 0, 5, 10 and 15% levels as replacement for soyabean meal (SBM) which constituted treatments 1(control), 2, 3 and 4, respectively. A total of 36 growing crossbred rabbits, 7-9 weeks old with an average body weight of 801±27.83g were randomly allotted to the treatments in an experiment that lasted for 9 weeks. Each treatment has nine animals in a completely randomised design. Results showed that the chemical composition of MLM contains 27.53% crude protein (CP), 9.93% ether extract (EE), 14.05% crude fibre (CF), 7.98% Ash and 40.51 nitrogen free extract (FE). The final body weight and daily weight gain were not significantly (P>0.05) different among the dietary treatments. The feed conversion ratio (FCR) and dry matter intake of experimental animals were also not significantly (P>0.05) influenced by the dietary treatments, however there was apparent reduction in the value of these parameters as the level of the MLM increases in the diets. The trend observed in the nutrient digestibility indicated that with increase in the level of MLM inclusion in the diets, apparent nutrient digestibility increases significantly (P<0.05) from animals fed control diet to those fed 15% MLM. The CP, CF, EE and Ash digestibility values were significantly (P<0.05) higher in rabbits fed dietary treatments 2, 3, and 4 than those on the control diet. This suggests that Moringa leaf meal (MLM) could be used to replace SBM at 15% level of inclusion in rabbit diets as a non-conventional protein source.
Keywords: Moringa leaf meal, growth, rabbits, digestibility