Performance of broiler chicks fed on diets containing urea ammoniated neem (Azadirachta indica) kernel cake
1. The performance, nutrient utilisation, blood profile, carcase composition, gross pathology and sensory evaluation of meat from broiler chicks fed from 3 to 42 d on diets containing urea ammoniated neem ( Azadirachta indica , A. juss ) kernel cake (NKC) as a protein supplement to replace peanut meal (PNM), were evaluated. NKC was ammoniated with urea at 15 (UANKC 1) or 25 g (UANKC 2)/kg and incorporated into the test diets to replace either half (134.5 g/kg (L-UANKC 1) and 127.5 g/kg (L-UANKC 2), respectively) or all (269 g/kg (H-UANKC 1) and 255.0 g/kg (H-UANKC 2), respectively) of the nitrogen provided by the PNM. 2. The growth, food intake and efficiency of nutrient utilisation of the birds were comparable between the reference and L-UANKC 1 and 2 diets but were depressed on the other UANKC diets. 3. The retention of dry matter (DM), crude fibre (CF), nitrogen-free extract, total carbohydrate, gross energy , acid detergent fibre, calcium and phosphorus were similar among groups, except lower DM and higher CF and phosphorus retentions were noted in chicks fed on the H-UANKC 1, H-UANKC 2 and L-UANKC 2 diets. All the chicks were in positive nitrogen balance and percentage nitrogen retention did not differ between the reference and test diets. 4. Haemoglobin, total erythrocyte count and aspartate amino transferase activity were unaffected by diet, but total leucocyte count was higher in chicks fed on the H-UANKC 1 and 2 diets and alanine amino transferase activities were lower in chicks fed on the test diets. Blood urea increased as the amount of urea in the diets increased. 5. Most of the physico-chemical carcase characteristics from birds fed on the L-UANKC 2 were comparable to those from birds fed on the reference diet. No bitter taste was noticed in cooked meat from any diet by the sensory panel. 6. Incorporation of L-UANKC 2 was economical and responses were comparable to those observed on the reference diet. 7. It was concluded that NKC detoxified with 25 g urea/kg can economically and successfully replace half the nitrogen of PNM in broiler diets thereby mitigating the chronic shortage of costly oil cakes in developing countries.