Effect of Moringa Leaf Meal (Molm) on Nutrient Digestibility, Growth, Carcass and Blood Indices of Weaner Rabbits

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The study involved the cultivation of moringa and the use of the moringa leaf meal (MOLM) to determine its effect on nutrient digestibility, growth, carcass characteristics and haematological and biochemical indices of weaner rabbits. Five (5) treatment diets were formulated to contain MOLM inclusion levels of 0% (control), 5%, 10%, 15% and 20%. Thirty (30) weaner rabbits of mixed breeds and sexes were used for the experiment. They were randomly divided into 5 groups of 6 animals per treatment with 2 animals per replicate, in a Completely Randomized Design (CRD). Feed and water were provided ad libitum. Data obtained from the moringa cultivation showed that on dry matter (DM) basis, 425.10 kg/ha of moringa leaves could be produced at first harvest at 90 days of age using a planting spacing of 1.3 × 1.3 m. Elemental analysis of the moringa leaf meal (MOLM) on DM basis indicated that the leaves contained 24.65% DM, 29.25% CP, 2.23% EE, 19.25% CF, 7.13% ash, 41.98% NFE, 0.33% P and 8.64% Ca. The dry matter (DM) and CP digestibility values were affected (p<0.05) by dietary treatments whilst the CF and EE digestibility values were not (p>0.05). The average daily feed intake and FCR did not differ between dietary treatments (p>0.05), however, the average daily weight gain was higher (p<0.05) in rabbits on the MOLM based-diets (13.49, 13.69, 14.03, 15.01 g/d) compared to those on the control diet (11.71 g/d). Except for meat crude protein and ether extract, which were influenced by dietary treatment (p<0.01), the carcass characteristics studied did not differ between treatments (p>0.05). All the blood parameters studied did not vary between treatments (p>0.05). The cost of feed to gain a kilogramme weight, although not significant (p>0.05), was highest when soyabean meal (SBM) was completely replaced with MOLM due solely to the large price disparities between MOLM and SBM. The study revealed that the MOLM is rich in nutrients. It also showed that the MOLM could be used as a partial or total replacement for SBM without any adverse effect on the productive performance and blood indices of weaner rabbits.
A thesis submitted to the school of graduate studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Science Degree in Animal Nutrition