Growth performance and carcass characteristics of confined Fulani ecotype chickens fed varying dietary energy and protein levels
The objectives of this study were to determine the optimum energy and protein levels for confined Fulani ecotype chickens (FEC), evaluate and determine their growth performance and carcass characteristics with a view to contribute to the existing knowledge on appropriate feeding management of Fulani ecotype chickens. One hundred and eighty day-old local Fulani ecotype chickens were used for this study and the experiment was carried out at Poultry Unit of the Teaching and Research of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile – Ife, Osun State. The chicks were fed starter test diets for the first six weeks of age and finisher diets from 6 – 12 weeks of age. Drinking water was provided ad libitum.Birds were randomly allocated to six dietary treatments replicated thrice, with ten birds per replicate in a factorial arrangement (3 x 2) of energy at 3 levels (2900, 3000 and 3100 kcal ME/kg ) and crude protein (CP) at 2 levels (20 and 22%, starter phase and 18 and 20%, finisher phase). Growth response parameters evaluated comprised final body weight, feed intake, weight gain, and feed conversion ratio. Carcass characteristics were evaluated by estimating carcass yield, and proportions of various body parts such as drumstick, thigh, shank and breast. In the starter phase, dietary regimes had no effect (P>0.05) on feed conversion ratio but final body weight, body weight gain and feed intake of the FEC were significantly affected (P<0.05).Birds on 3000ME kcal/kg were superior (P<0.05) in final body weight and body weight gain, which was similar (P>0.05) to birds on 2900 ME kcal/kg. Birds on 3100 ME kcal/kgconsumed more (P<0.05) feed than others. There was a significant interaction effect between protein and energy levels on average daily gain where birds on 2900 and 3000 ME kcal/kg with 22% CP were superior (P<0.05) to those on other energy-protein combinations. In the second phase, birds fed 20% CP and energy content of 3000 ME kcal/kg were superior(P<0.05) to other treatmentsin final body weight but there was no significant effect (P>0.05)of diets on other growth parameters. In both phases birds on 3000 kcal ME/kg with 22 or 20% CP had the least feed cost per kg gain. The same trend of results was followed as found in the first and second phases when the overall growth period (0-12weeks) was considered.The different levels of energy and crude protein had no significant effect (P>0.05)on the carcass characteristics of the Fulani ecotype chickens. In conclusion, protein and energy utilization for growing Fulani ecotype chickens was satisfactory with 22% CP and 3000 kcal ME/kg diet at the early phase (0-6 weeks), and 3000kcalME/kg and 20% at the latter phase (6-12 weeks) of growth. Dietary regime had no effect on carcass characteristics of growing Fulani ecotype chickens under deep litter system.