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Effect of Dietary Incorporation of Azolla Meal on Production Performance and Egg Quality of Vanaraja Laying Hens

Sushree Sangita Boitai Lakshman Kumar Babu Arun Kumar Panda Lalmohan Mohapatra Biswanath Sahoo
Vol 8(5), 264-270
DOI- http://dx.doi.org/10.5455/ijlr.20170828054121

An experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of dietary incorporation of Azolla meal on production performance and egg quality of Vanaraja laying hens. Seventy two, 48-weeks old Vanaraja laying hens were randomly distributed into three dietary treatment groups of 24 hens each and were reared in deep litter system. Each treatment contained 4 replicates of 6 hens each. Three experimental diets were formulated by incorporating Azolla meal (AZM) at 0, 5% and 10% levels. A measured quantity of feed (150 g/day) was offered to each bird everyday during the experimental period of 8 weeks. Egg production was recorded daily on individual pen basis and percent hen housed egg production (HHEP) was calculated. The average feed consumption was recorded as g/hen/day and feed efficiency was calculated on the basis of feed consumed per unit egg mass production. All the eggs laid during the last five consecutive days of each 28 days period were collected to measure the egg weight. Twelve eggs were randomly chosen in each treatment from the eggs laid during the last three consecutive days of each 28-day period to determine the egg quality. Dietary incorporation of AZM at either 5 or 10% level reduced the body weight of laying hens. The egg production, egg weight, egg mass per day and feed conversion efficiency (g feed/g egg) was comparable among the 0% (control), 5% and 10% AZM incorporated diets. The egg quality indices like albumen, yolk and egg shell percentage observed were similar across the different dietary treatment groups. Similarly, Dietary incorporation of AZM upto 10% in the diet had no influence on Haugh unit and shell thickness. It is concluded that Azolla meal can be incorporated up to 10% in the diet of Vanaraja laying hens without affecting egg production and egg quality.


Keywords : Azolla Meal Egg Quality Production Performance Vanaraja Laying Hens

Introduction

The primary objective of poultry production is to reduce the feed cost as it accounts for 70-80% of total cost of production. Higher price and scarcity of conventional feed ingredients has compelled the researchers to find out the possibility of using alternate non competitive feed ingredients in poultry feeding. On such feed resources is Azolla (Azolla pinnata). Azolla being aquatic plants do not accumulate secondary plant compounds and therefore, offer greater potential than tree leaves as protein source for monogastric animals (Bacerra et al., 1995). Proximate analysis, together with the estimates of digestible protein and metabolizable energy indicated that it is a fair source of plant protein (285.4 g kg−1) with a digestible protein value of 219.8 g kg−1 and a metabolizable energy value of 7.59 MJ kg−1 (906 g kg−1 DM) (Khatun et al., 1999). It also contains almost all essential amino acids, carotene and several growth promoters intermediaries, minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper) and vitamins like beta carotene and vit. B12 (Pillai et al., 2004; Dhumal et al., 2009).

It has been reported that Azolla at low levels (5%) in poultry diet had shown better performance especially when they supply part of the total protein (Ashraf et al., 2015). In a study with growing pullets, Alalade et al. (2007) reported that AZM supplementation at low level in the diet had no adverse effect on laying performance and health of the commercial laying hens. Similarly, Sujatha et al. (2013) did not observe any adverse effect on egg production and feed conversion ratio by feeding fresh Azolla, at the rate of 200 g per hen per day in addition to 120 g of basal diet in Nicobari fowl from 45-60 weeks age. However, there is no available information in literature on the utilization of Azolla on production performance of dual purpose varieties of chicken (Vanaraja) developed for rural poultry farming in India. The present experiment was conducted to evaluate dietary incorporation of AZM on production performance and egg quality of Vanaraja laying hens under intensive system of rearing during 48 to 56 weeks of age.

Materials and Methods

Experimental Diet and Design

Seventy-two (48 weeks old) Vanaraja laying hens were randomly distributed into three dietary treatment groups with 4 replicates per treatment and each replicate had 6 laying hens. The laying hens were reared on deep litter under uniform managemental conditions for a period of 8 weeks. Three experimental diets were formulated by incorporating azolla meal at 0, 5% and 10% levels. The levels of lysine, methionine, calcium and non phytate phosphorus were kept constant in all the diets. The ingredient and nutrient composition of the diets are presented in Table 1. A measured quantity of feed (150 g/day) was offered to each bird everyday during the experimental period.

Table 1: Ingredient and nutrient composition of experimental diets

Ingredients D-1 D-2 D-3
Maize 58.4 58.4 58.2
Soybean meal 20.7 15.7 10.7
Azolla meal 0 5 10
Deoiled rice bran 10.44 10.26 10.29
Shell grit 8.7 8.7 8.7
Dicalcium phosphate 1.16 1.16 1.16
DL-Methionine 0.03 0.05 0.06
L-Lysine 0 0.16 0.32
Salt 0.4 0.4 0.4
Vitamin premix 0.05 0.05 0.05
Trace mineral premix 0.12 0.12 0.12
Total 100 100.00 100.00
Nutrient Composition
ME (kcal/kg) 2601 2571 2541
CP (%) 15.89 14.62 13.36
Lysine (%) 0.8 0.8 0.8
Methionine (%) 0.34 0.29 0.28
Calcium (%) 3.01 3.04 3.1
Non-phytate phosphorus (%) 0.35 0.35 0.34

ME= Metabolizable energy, CP = Crude protein

Preparation of Azolla Meal and Chemical Analysis

The azolla was harvested from the azolla cultivation unit of the institute, washed properly and dried in hot air oven at 55oC, until they became crispy. Then it was grinded and stored in poly-bags for using in the experimental diets. The azolla meal (AZM) sample was analysed for crude protein, crude fibre, ether extract, total ash, calcium and phosphorus following the AOAC (1990) standard procedures of analysis.

Parameters Studied

Initially the body weight of laying hens was recorded individually and then final body weight was measured at the end of the period of study. Egg production was recorded daily on individual pen basis and percent hen housed egg production (HHEP) was calculated. The average feed consumption was recorded as g/hen/day and feed efficiency was calculated on the basis of feed consumed per unit egg mass production. All the eggs laid during the last five consecutive days of each 28 days period were collected to measure the egg weight.

Twelve eggs were randomly chosen in each treatment from the eggs laid during the last three consecutive days of each 28-day period to determine the egg quality. Each egg was carefully broken at the equator and content emptied on a dry, smooth and flat surface. The external and internal egg quality characteristics were measured. Yolk and shell weights were obtained using a digital weighing machine while albumen weight was obtained by difference. The height of egg albumen was measured using spherometer and Haugh unit was calculated. The cleaned egg-shells were dried for 24 h, weighed and expressed as % of whole egg. The shell thickness was measured at three different locations (middle, broad and narrow ends) using micrometer gauge.

Statistical Analysis

Data were subjected to one-way analysis of variance using completely randomized design (Snedecor and Cochran, 1989) and the treatment means were compared by Duncan multiple range test (Duncan, 1955).

Results and Discussion

The nutrient composition of azolla meal (AZM) on dry matter basis (DM) is presented in Table 2. The CP, EE CF, TA, Ca and P contents in AZM were 21.89, 3.52, 13.92, 18.01, 2.03 and 0.59%, respectively on DM basis. The values observed on nutrient composition of AZM corroborates previous findings (Alalade and Lyayi, 2006; Sujatha et al., 2013).

Table 2: Nutrient composition of Azolla meal on DM basis

Constituent % DM
Crude protein (CP) 21.89
Ether extract (EE) 3.52
Crude fibre (CF) 13.92
Total ash 18.01
Calcium 2.03
Phosphorus 0.59

The average body weight of laying hens in the beginning of experiment (48 wk) was 2946g; 2898g and 2943g in 0, 5 and 10% AZM incorporated diets, respectively and were comparable among the dietary treatments (Table 3).

Table 3: Effect of   dietary incorporation of Azolla meal on production performance of Vanaraja laying hens

Parameters Azolla Meal (%) SEM P value
0 5 10
Initial Body weight (g) 2946 2898 2923 19.24 0.795
Final Body weight (g) 2936 2843 2875 32.05 0.487
Hen housed egg Production ( %) 45.09 47.76 46.13 1.81 0.845
Egg weight (g) 61.62 61.62 60.50 0.60 0.692
Egg mass (g/day) 28.00 28.65 28.49 0.97 0.964
Feed efficiency (g feed/g egg) 5.41 5.36 5.59 0.22 0.914

The final body weight of laying hens decreased across the treatments during the experimental period. However, the loss of body weight was more pronounced in AZM incorporated diets compared to control. Similar to the finding of the present study, Alalade et al. (2007) reported that apparent depression in weight gain observed on 10 and 15% AZM diets presumably due to low ME content of the diets compared to control. Similar report of reduced weight gain due to lower dietary energy intake has been made for growing pullets (Sobamiwa and Akinwale, 1999) and broilers (Lei and Van Beck, 1991). There was no mortality of birds across the dietary treatments during the whole period of study.

The hen housed egg production (HHEP) percentage varied from 45.09 to 47.76% among the dietary groups (Table 3). Dietary incorporation azolla meal (AZM) upto 10% in the diet had no influence on HHEP egg production during the entire period of study.  Similarly, the egg weight, egg mass per day and feed efficiency (g feed per g egg) were comparable among the 0% (control), 5% and 10% AZM based diets. The findings of the present study, thus suggested that AZM can be incorporated up to 10% in the diet of Vanaraja laying hens without affecting the production performance. Similar to the finding of the present study, Khatun et al. (2008) reported that AZM could be considered as a source of protein and pigment without any harmful effects on production performance (Egg production, egg mass and feed conversion) up to 15% in the diet of commercial laying hens. In another study, Alalade et al. (2007) reported that AZM at low level of supplementation up to 15% can be incorporated in diets of growing pullets without jeopardizing health and subsequent laying performance. In an experiment with Nicobari fowl, Sujatha et al. (2013) did not observe any adverse effect on egg production and feed conversion ratio by feeding fresh Azolla, at the rate of 200 g per hen per day in addition to 120 g of basal diet from 45-60 weeks age. Egg production is noted to be dependent on the genetic capability of the hen, and this interacting with environmental conditions, which is mainly nutritional (Kwakkel, 1993). Indications from literatures revealed that most strains of Azolla have a well-balanced array of essential amino acids (Van Hove, 1989) and also possess apparent capacity to supply vitamins and minerals when included in diets (Bacerra et al., 1995) and thereby maintained the production performance.

The egg quality indices like albumen, yolk and egg shell percentage observed were similar across the different dietary treatment groups (Table 4).

Table 4: Effect of   dietary incorporation of Azolla meal on egg quality of Vanaraja laying hens

Parameters Azolla Meal (%) SEM P value
0 5 10
Albumen (%) 58.35 56.86 57.29 0.37 0.249
Yolk (%) 32.70 34.27 34.07 0.34 0.121
Shell (%) 8.95 8.85 8.63 0.12 0.572
Haugh unit 75.38 75.39 71.41 1.04 0.161
Shell thickness (mm) 0.370 0.368 0.360 0.005 0.320

Similarly, dietary incorporation of AZM upto 10% in the diet had no influence on Haugh unit and shell thickness. The present findings suggested that the egg quality characteristics were not affected due to dietary incorporation of 5% and 10% AZM in Vanaraja laying hens. Concomitant to the findings of the present study, Alalade et al. (2007) reported no influence of dietary incorporation of AZM up to 15% on egg quality parameters like eggshell thickness, egg shell % and albumen % in egg.  Similarly, Khatun et al. (1999) observed that feeding Azolla on total or digestible nutrient basis replacing sesame meal up to 200 g/kg of diet had no affect on egg quality parameters except yolk colour which could be due to higher level of pigments in AZM.

Conclusion

From the above findings, it can be concluded that AZM can be incorporated up to 10% in the diet of Vanaraja laying hens without affecting egg production and egg quality.

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the fund and infrastruc­tural facilities provided by Director, ICAR-Central Institute for Women in Agriculture, Bhubaneswar. The authors are very much grateful to all the staffs of ICAR, CIWA for their unconditional support and guidance. We are equally thankful to Dean, College of Veterinary Science & A.H., Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar.

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