TROPICAL VEGETABLE (AMARANTHUS CRUENTUS) LEAF MEAL AS ALTERNATIVE PROTEIN SUPPLEMENT IN BROILER STARTER DIETS: BIONUTRITIONAL EVALUATION
2008, 9 (1) p. 23-34
Amaranthus cruentus is a tropical leaf vegetable grown in most tropical regions of the world for its vegetable protein. The fresh matured leaves of the plant were harvested and sun dried until a moisture content of between 12-13% was obtained. The sun dried leaves (Amaranthus cruentus leaf meal, ACLM) were milled and analysed for their proximate composition. Crude protein was 23.0%+0.55; crude fat, 5.4%+0.01; crude fibre, 8.8%+0.02; ash, 19.3%+0.01 and gross energy, 3.3+0.01kcal/g all on dry matter basis. Methionine and to a lesser extent, lysine, arginine, leucine and aspartate were high. The ACLM was incorporated into five formulated broiler starter diets at varying inclusion levels. The control diet 1 had no ACLM inclusion. All the six diets including control diet 1 were formulated isocaloric and isonitrogenous and fed to the experimental chicks (n = 540). Birds kept on diet 2 (5% ACLM inclusion level) had the best average weight gain (WG) of 372.9+29.94g/chick. The feed efficiency (FE) value and the protein efficiency ratio (PER) for birds on diet 2 were similar (P > 0.05) to values obtained for the reference diet. The nitrogen retention (NR) and apparent nitrogen digestibility (AND) values obtained for diet 2 were highest at 1.48+0.24gN/chick/day and 63.12%+10.28, respectively. Except for dressed weight and the back of chicken all the organs weights taken were similar (P > 0.05). Haematological examinations were similar (P > 0.05). Results generally indicated that ACLM could be a useful dietary protein source for broiler starter chicks at 5% inclusion level.