Department of Animal Production and Health, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Abeokuta, Nigeria
Receive Date: 26 April 2014,
Revise Date: 19 July 2014,
Accept Date: 31 July 2014
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) supplementation has been documented as a useful tool to improve the performance of laying birds reared under harsh environmental conditions. However, there is limited information on the use of ascorbic acid as a means of ameliorating the stressful conditions imposed by feed restriction. To this effect a 3 × 2 factorial experiment was carried out to evaluate the effect of ascorbic acid inclusion in the diet of broiler chickens under quantitative feed restriction. A total of 96 unsexed 22 days-old Marshall broiler chickens of a commercial strain were distributed to six treatments, birds on treatments 1 and 2 were fed ad libitum, and those in treatments 3 and 4 were placed on 85% ad libitum while those on treatments 5 and 6 were offered 70% ad libitum. Diets fed to birds on treatments 1, 3 and 5 were formulated without ascorbic acid while those on treatments 2, 4 and 6 had their diets supplemented with 200 mgkg-1 ascorbic acid. Blood samples were collected from one bird per replicate for haematological and serum biochemistry on the 35th and 49th days of the study. Performance indices (feed intake, weight gain and intake:gain ratio) were significantly (P<0.05) influenced by quantitative feed restriction. Feed intake (3256.93, 2799.74 and 2360.05 g/bird) and weight gain (1134.70, 1023.88 and 968.86 g/bird) had highest values recorded for the birds fed ad libitum while those on 70% ad libitum feeding recorded the best intake: gain ratio (2.87, 2.74 and 2.44). Ascorbic acid supplementation significantly (P<0.05) affected the growth performance of broilers. Birds fed diets containing ascorbic acid had relatively high values in the growth performance indices considered. Quantitative feed restriction and ascorbic acid supplementation did not affect the haematological and serum biochemical parameters studied. It can be concluded that quantitative feed restriction and ascorbic acid supplementation influenced the growth performance of broilers.
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