The growth performance of vanaraja birds fed with fresh azolla supplemented diets was assessed at farmer’s field reared under deep litter system. A total of 200 numbers of one month old vanaraja birds was randomly divided into four groups. Group 1 (G1) was fed with wet azolla @ 5 % of the ration (grains), Group 2 (G2) was fed with wet azolla @10%, Group 3 (G3) was fed with wet azolla @ 15% and the Group 4(G4) served as control and fed only locally available low cost feed materials such as sorghum grains, rice bran, ground nut oil cake and broken rice. The weight gain of birds was recorded at fortnightly intervals up to 14 weeks of age. The body weight of birds (1112.6 g) fed azolla @15 % of ration was more (P≤0.05) compared to all other groups. The study suggests that supplementation of azolla@15 %along with locally available feed ingredients improved the growth performance of vanaraja birds reared under intensive system.
Backyard poultry rearing is still popular in some states of India for production of birds with multi-coloured feathers similar to that of desi chicken which lays brown coloured shell eggs. So far the native chicken specific to their localities are selected by the poultry farmers for backyard poultry rearing. This results in minimum egg production (60 to 80 eggs / year / hen) with more feed consumption leading to less profit. Now, the crossbred chicken have been introduced in backyard poultry rearing which results in more egg production (150-180 eggs / hen / year) with less feed consumption. The crossbred chicken and their eggs are marketed for same price as that of desi chicken because of the similarity in physical appearance. A crossbred chicken for backyard poultry rearing was widely followed. Among the crossbred chicken the Vanaraja is a multi-coloured dual-purpose chicken variety developed at Project Directorate on Poultry, Hyderabad, for free range and rural backyard rearing. The plumage colour and disease resistance of Vanaraja is similar to native chicken. Vanaraja grows fast and produces more eggs than native chicken. So the vanaraja birds were chosen for the study. Azolla contains (on dry weight basis) 25-35% protein, 10-15% minerals whereas carbohydrate and oil contents are low. Nutritive and feeding value of azolla has been assessed in commercial broiler chicken, desi birds and ducks (Acharya et al., 2015). Both dietary fresh /wet as well as dried azolla meal can be safely included in the broiler diet at the rate of 10 per cent have been used by the earlier workers, without affecting production performance. Shoukat et al. (2015) observed that 5.0% azolla may be incorporated in the diets of broiler chicken to make the broiler production more profitable. However, studies on performance of dual purpose breeds such as Vanaraja fed fresh azolla under farmers field conditions are scanty. Therefore this study was carried out.
Chemical Composition of Azolla (% on DM basis)
Crude protein – 23.96
Crude fiber – 6.05
Ether extract – 3.63
Total ash – 14.77
Sand and silica – 0.5
Calcium – 1.2
Phosphorus – 1.0
Materials and Methods
A total of 200 numbers of one month old Vanaraja birds were randomly divided into four groups. Group1 (G1) was fed with fresh azolla @ 5% of the ration (grains), Group 2 (G2) was fed with fresh wet azolla @ 10%, Group 3 (G3) was fed with wet azolla @ 15% and the Group 4 (G4) served as control and fed only with locally available low cost feed such as sorghum – 20%, bran – 35%, oil cake – 25% and broken rice- 20%.
Table 1: Body weight of Vanaraja birds fed fresh azolla
|Age||Dietary treatment groups|
|(in weeks)||G1||G2||G3||C – Control|
|(Azolla supplementation @ 5 %)||(Azolla supplementation @ 10 %)||(Azolla supplementation @ 15 %)||(without azolla)|
|Hatch weight||36.6 ± 0.28||36.7 ± 0.41||36.1± 0.34||36.1 ± 0.43|
|4||203.4 ± 3.46||207.4 ± 3.14||210.1 ± 3.21||211.8 ± 4.16|
|6||302.0 ± 5.32||315.4 ± 5.33||321.9 ± 5.42||335.7 ± 5.58|
|8||342.4 ± 6.68||352.6 ± 5.29||378.6 ± 5.02||385.6 ± 8.67|
|10||665.2 ± 7.16||675.1 ± 5.43||699.6 ± 9.24||535.2 ± 5.88|
|12||762.5 b ± 4.73||792.2 b ± 4.16||814.3 a ± 6.23||710.2 b ± 4.16|
|14||1000b ± 8.23||1011.0 b ± 8.52||1112.00a ± 9.10||956.00 b ± 6.93|
Means with at least one common superscript in a row do not differ significantly (P>0.05)
The birds were vaccinated against Ranikhet diseases (RDVKF1, Lasota and R2B) up to 3 months period. Clean drinking water was provided ad lib to all the birds at all times.
Table 2: Economics of azolla based diets – feeding cost per kg live weight
|Treatment Group||Level of Azolla Inclusion 10 (%)||Cost of Feed per kg (INR)||Total Feed Cost (INR)||Feed Cost per kg Live Weight (INR)|
Table 3: Ingredients included in the ration
|Treatment Groups||Level (%) of Azolla (Fresh)||Number of Birds||Remarks|
|G1||5||50||Sorghum grain – 20 %|
|G2||10||50||Broken rice – 20 %|
|G3||15||50||Groundnut oil cake – 25 %|
|G4 (Control)||0||50||Rice bran – 35 %|
Results and Discussion
The chemical analysis of azolla used in the experiment contained (% on DM basis) 23.96 crude proteins, 6.05 crude fibres, 3.63 ether extract, 14.77 total ash, 0.5 sand and silica, 1.2 calcium, 1.0 phosphorus (Alalade and Iyayi 2006; Raseena, 2006). Further, Basak et al. (2002) reported that ether extract content of azolla varied between 3.0 -3.5 % in present study more less similar value (3.63) was obtained. The crude fibre content of 6.05 % less was compared to the findings of Querubin et al. (1986). Azolla contains a calcium content of 1.11% (Parthasarathy et al., 2001) which is in close conformity with the value recorded in present study. The variations in the nutrient composition of azolla as reported by researchers could be due to species difference and habitat variation of the taxon.
No bird died in any treatment group during the experimental period, indicating that inclusion of azolla in feed had no deleterious effect on improved varieties. The body weight of birds fed different levels of fresh azolla along with grains did not differ significantly from 4th week to 10th week of their age. However, the body weight of birds (1112 ± 9.1 g) fed fresh azolla @15% was higher (P≤0.05) at 12th and 14th weeks of age when compared to all other groups. These findings are not agreement with the results of Dhumal et al. (2009) who observed higher returns in chicken fed ration wherein 5% protein source was replaced by azolla, in contrary to the present study. The body weight was relatively lower in Group 4 (G4). The livability of birds also did not vary amongst the experimental groups.
This study suggested that supplementation of azolla @15% along with locally available feed ingredients improved the growth performance of vanaraja birds reared under intensive system.
The authors are grateful to Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu for providing necessary facilities for conducting the study.