Physiological Responses of Broilers to Dietary Inclusion of Palm Kernel Shell Ash.
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Palm kernel shells (PKS) were co llected, from a local palm processing unit in Imo state Nigeria, cleaned and ashed at about 500 O C to produce palm kernel shell ash (PKSA) . Ash yield of the PKS and physicochemical characteristics of the PKSA were determined. The mineral content was also as sayed using atomic absorption spectrophotometry to ascertain its concentrations of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and cobalt. Thereafter, ninety six Abor Acre day old chicks were used to assess the physiolo gical responses of PKSA as mineral supplement in broiler ration during starter and finisher phases in a 56 days feeding trial. The birds were divided into four groups of 24 each (T1 – T4), which were further replicated 3 times with 8 birds per replicate in a completely randomized design (CRD). During each phase, four experimental diets were formulated and offered to the birds such that the control diets had no PKSA, whereas the other three diets contained graded levels of PKSA at 5, 10 and 15 kg/ton of feed r espectively to replace equal weights of bone meal. Performance characteristics were determined at days seven and 28 days (starter phase) and 42 and 56 days (finisher phase). Proximate and mineral compositions of the feeds were determined. At the 56 th day o f feeding, carcass and organ weights analyses, hematology, serum biochemical indices and faecal mineral content of the experimental birds were evaluated. Results obtained showed that PKSA had 92.68% dry matter, 0.8206 g/cm 3 bulk density, 0.8977 g water/g f eed water holding capacity, 0.8149 specific gravity and was mildly alkaline (8.39). The order of mineral elements in PKSA was K> Mg>Ca>P>Na>Fe> Mn>Zn> Cu, while that of the broiler starter diet was K>P>Mg>Na>Ca>Fe>Mn>Zn>Cu and finisher diet P>Ca>K>Mg>Na>Fe > Mn>Zn>Cu. Seventh day performance results showed that ash supplemented bird values of weight gain, feed intake and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were similar to control values, while growth efficiency ratio (GER) values were 2.18, 2.74, 2.12 and 2.76 for T 1 to T4 respectively. Percentage GIT segmental weights, pH and villi heights were normal. At the starter phase