Leaf Meal More Effective Than AGP in South African Broiler Trial

SOUTH AFRICA - A recently published study finds that a leaf meal from a native tree improved the growth of broilers better than a combination of antibiotic growth promoters (AGP).
calendar icon 4 March 2014
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Supplementation of Moringa oleifera leaf meal up to 25g per kg of feed for broilers did not impair nutrient utilisation efficiency but enhanced the bird's genetic potential for growth performance.

That is the conclusion drawn by T.T. Nkukwana and co-authors in a paper published in Livestock Science.

They examined the effects of dietary supplementation of M. oleifera leaf meal (MOLM) as a growth promoter on the growth performance, apparent digestibility, digestive organ size and carcass yield of broiler chickens.

A total of 2,400 one-day-old Cobb-500 broiler chicks of mixed sex were randomly allocated to five dietary treatments in six replications of 80 birds per pen. Fresh, green and undamaged mature M. oleifera leaves were collected from a number of trees from the same village to avoid variations in soil micronutrient content. The leaves were ground to produce MOLM.

Dietary treatments were as follows:

  • positive control (C+) with 668g salinomycin and 500g zinc bacitracin per kg of feed
  • MOLMlow (ML; 1, 3 and 5g per kg feed)
  • MOLMmedium (MM; 3, 9 and 15g per kg feed)
  • MOLMhigh (MH; 5, 15 and 25g per kg of feed) and
  • a negative control (C-; without supplementation).

Diets were fed for 35 days in starter, grower and finisher phases; and birds were provided feed and water ad libitum.

At 35 days of age, 12 birds per treatment, two from each replicate pen, were randomly selected, electrically stunned at 70V and killed by cervical dislocation for determination of carcass and organ weights.

At seven and 21 days of age, birds fed MH had the highest bodyweights while C+ had the lowest.

No significant differences were observed in feed intake between treatments during periods from to 21 days or throughout the 35-day experimental period.

Feed conversion ratio was highest in birds supplemented with MOLM, except for MM; and was the lowest in C+.

Birds in ML had the highest thigh weights, and MH had the lowest.

Gizzard erosion score was the lowest in MH and the highest in MM.

Mortality rate was the highest in MH from day 22 to 28 and was the lowest in ML and MM (1.3 per cent versus 0.21 per cent); and was mainly due to sudden death.

There were no significant differences in apparent digestibility for ash, ether extract (EE), crude fibre (CF), crude protein (CP), acid detergent fibre (ADF) and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) among treatments.


Nkukwana T.T., V. Muchenje, E. Pieterse, .J. Masikac, T.P. Mabusela, L.C. Hoffman, and K. Dzama. 2014. Effect of Moringa oleifera leaf meal on growth performance, apparent digestibility, digestive organ size and carcass yield in broiler chickens. Livestock Science. 161:139–146. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2014.01.001

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