Evaluation of diatomite for improved chicken productivity in Uganda
Isabirye, Robert Alex
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This study sought to assess the effect of diatomaceous earth (DE) on internal and ectoparasites and on productivity of commercial layer chicken raised under Ugandan environment. Data collection employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches. This was done through cross-sectional surveys; rapid rural appraisals, focus group discussions and laboratory analyses on fecal, feed and blood samples from chicken. Chemical analyses of DE samples; and measuring egg parameters were also used. Findings showed that dietary supplementation with different levels of DE resulted into significant increase in eggshell weight and yolk height thus, dietary DE supplementation can promote laying hen performance by improving those egg quality traits in deep litter raised hens. The DE was however not effective on eggshell weight percentage, egg specific gravity, yolk colour and Haugh unit. Fecal analyses showed significant (p<0.05) differences in FEC implying that DE eliminated Ascaridia galli. No significant (p>0.05) effects on hematological values were noted. It also eliminated all the mites, lice or fleas for at least 7 days during application intervals, it can hence be used in an integrated approach to control these parasites in chicken. This research concluded that dietary DE could be used successfully in growing pullet to correct nutritional mineral imbalance. This was apparently due to presence of many trace elements including silica essential for animal well-being. The mineral composition of Ugandan DE depicted the deposits can provide a valuable raw material for use in agricultural and industrial purposes. Further research should emphasize effect of dietary DE on eggshell and bone strength of layer birds; also explore the interactions among the minerals found in DE and their effect on product quality. To enhance the action of DE against ectoparasites, organic approaches e.g. mixing DE with plant extracts or plant metabolites with acaricidal activity should be studied.