Nutritive and economic value of hydroponic barley fodder in kuroiler chicken diets
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The unstable price of commercial feed is a threat to sustainable agricultural development; thus, an experiment was conducted to assess the nutritive and economic value of hydroponic barley fodder produced using locally available materials on the growth rate of Kuroiler chicken. Day old chicks were purchased from Chick master in Mukono which were sexed, and only male chicks selected. They were brooded together for the first three weeks and vaccinated against New castle, Infectious bronchitis Gumboro, Marek’s diseases. A completely randomized design (CRD) was used to assign the ninety chicks at three weeks age to 5 study groups each group with three replicates running for 9 weeks. Group 1 was fed on 100% basal feed; the groups 2, 3, 4, & 5 were fed on 25% hydroponic barley fodder + 75% basal; 50% Hydroponic fodder+50% basal; 75% Hydroponic barley fodder+25% basal and 100% Hydroponic fodder respectively. Seed grade barley was sprouted in a well aerated structure measuring 6M length by 5M width by 4M height made of wire mesh, timber and plastered bricks. While wooden stands covered with DPC plastic were used as growing surfaces. Weight of fodder harvested; weekly weight gain per bird in each group; amount of feed consumed, cost of feed and chicken meat produced in each group were recorded on a weekly basis. The nutritional profile of barley grain and fodder were analyzed using proximate analysis. Analysis of variance was performed using SPSS version 24 and differences among the means were determined using Tukey post hoc test and Least significant difference test (LSD) with the level of significance defined at P = 0.05. Second-degree polynomial regression analysis was used to predict the accurate inclusion percentage of HBF and the breakpoint for the optimum requirement that gives the highest growth rate. Results showed that the cost of producing hydroponic barley fodder reduced by 63% from the conventional automated fodder sprouting system. Each kilogram of barley grain produced 4.1kg of fodder by day 4 of sprouting compared with 6.0kg using the automated system. Sprouting enhanced the nutritional profile of barley grain. Moisture content was 7 times higher in fodder than that in grain while the crude protein was 23.45 ± 0.0106, which was 3.4 times higher than that in the grain. Results also indicated a significant mean weight gain (p = 0.000) among all groups. Group 2 attained the highest mean live weight of 3.349±0.039Kg compared with the control with 3.278±0.036 kg. Second-degree polynomial regression predicted 23% HBF as the optimum inclusion percentage for maximum growth rate among Kuroiler chicken. However, results showed that group 4 scored the highest gross margin of 50% and benefit cost ratio of 2.0. In conclusion, HBF can be produced using locally available materials to make highly nutritious feed at a lower cost than in automated systems. When HBF is incorporated into poultry feed as a percentage of total dry matter intake; it has a significant effect on growth rate and cost efficiency of Kuroiler chicken production.