Abstract An experiment was conducted to examine the suitability of chopped palm leaves to utilize as a bedding material, compared to wood shavings or wheat straw, on growth performance, immune response, and air quality for broiler production. Three bedding materials were used: wood shavings, chopped palm leaves, and wheat straw. A total of 3,240 one-day-old broiler chicks (Ross 308) was randomly distributed into 3 litter groups (1,080 birds each). Each group had 6 replicate pens (180 birds/pen). All birds were kept under similar environmental conditions, except for bedding material. The obtained results revealed that the growth performance and total mortality rate were not significantly affected by bedding material type. However, using chopped palm leaves as bedding material significantly reduced (P < 0.05) ammonia emission compared to wood shavings and wheat straw (4.1, 7.3 and 8.4 ppm, respectively). A similar trend was observed for settled dust concentration (4.0, 10.3, and 5.9 g/m2, respectively). Moreover, an improvement in cell-mediated immunity was observed in boilers kept on chopped palm leaves. Carcass characteristics were not significantly affected by bedding material. It was concluded that chopped palm leaves are a good alternative bedding material to wood shavings and wheat straw in commercial broiler production. DESCRIPTION OF PROBLEM A great deal of attention has been given to bedding material. Low price, availability, and highly absorbent bedding material are preferable. As the broiler industry continues to expand, the availability and cost of conventional bedding material, particularly sawdust and wood shavings, has become a major concern in many areas of the world. However, wood shavings have become increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain, as the broiler industry is expanding worldwide, and they are unavailable in some production areas, encouraging researchers to evaluate other available bedding sources . Optimal environmental conditions are important factors affecting performance of broiler flocks. In closed poultry houses, the concentration of most aerosol particles and gases tends to increase exponentially. Type of bedding material affects many parameters related to broiler production, including NH3, CO2, and dust inside the house. The problem of elevated concentrations of ammonia has been most common in laying-hen houses and in the grow-out phase of poultry meat production. Therefore, it has become increasingly necessary to ascertain those factors that increase ammonia concentration and dust in the atmosphere of broiler houses, since both have deleterious effects on broiler performance . Negative effects of ammonia on broiler performance have been well documented. Many reports have indicated that the degree of ammonia formation depends on the type of bedding material. Lien et al.  found that the emission of NH3 from wood shaving litter was significantly low compared with that from peanut hull litter. An increase in NH3 concentration was associated with restricted amounts of wood shavings litter (3 vs. 4.5 cm depth), which seemed to relate to absorption capacity [4,5]. The litter containing zeolite or basalt had lower NH3 concentration compared with wood shavings litter . Sand, grass, and newspaper bedding material volatilized greater amounts of ammonia than that of wood shavings . Work conducted in different countries has indicated that locally available materials are usually preferred as bedding material for poultry . Atapattu and Wickramasinghe [8,9] pointed out that refused tea could successfully be used as an alternative litter material for broiler chickens. Producing date palm represents an important industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Accordingly, palm leaves and residues are produced in large amounts. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the effect of using chopped palm leaves as a bedding material, compared to wood shavings or wheat straw, for broiler production on productive performance, immunity, and air quality inside the broiler house. MATERIALS AND METHODS Birds, Housing, and Experimental Design A total of 3,240 one-day-old broiler chicks (Ross 308) was grown over a period of 6 weeks. Chicks were individually weighed and randomly divided into 3 equal groups (1,080 birds each) bedded with wood shavings, chopped palm leaves, or wheat straw (n = 3). Each group was subdivided into 6 replicates (180 birds/replicate) located in an environmental-controlled house at a stocking rate of 15 birds/m2. Feed and water were supplied ad libitum. The chicks were fed a mash starter diet from 0 to 4 wk of age (23% CP; 3,000 Kcal ME/Kg) and a mash finisher diet from 4 to 6 wk of age (20.5% CP; 3,500 Kcal ME/Kg). The birds were managed according the guidelines suggested by Ross Commercial Management Guide, Huntsville, AL. All procedures used in the current experiment were approved by the Institutional Animal and Poultry Care Committee of Qassim University. Growth Performance Traits Live body weight and feed consumption were recorded weekly. Mortality was recorded weekly for each replicate per bedding material. Feed consumption was adjusted for mortalities when appropriate. Feed conversion ratio (FCR) was calculated from the amount of feed consumed divided by body weight gain for each replicate (pen). Cell-Mediated Response and Serum IgM Concentration To evaluate the cell-mediated immune response, 3 birds from each replicate at 3 wk of age were used. Each bird was intradermally injected in the toe web (between the second and the third digit) of the left foot with 100 μg Phytohemagglutinin-P (PHAP)  in 0.1 mL sterile saline. The control toe web of the right foot received 0.1 mL of sterile saline in an identical manner. Toe-web thickness was measured with a constant tension caliper before injection and at 24, 48, and 72 h after PHAP injection. The toe-web swelling was calculated as the difference between the thickness of the toe web before and after injection. At 6 wk of age, blood samples were randomly collected from 36 birds per treatment (6 birds/pen). Serum was separated and analyzed for determining IgM antibodies using quantitative ELISA kits . The bursa of Fabricius and spleen from the same birds were removed and weighed to the nearest milligram and calculated as a percentage of live body weight. Atmospheric Gases and Dust To measure the atmospheric ammonia (NH3) concentration, a stain-gas detector tube  was placed approximately 30 cm above the ground at the middle point of each pen. Also, carbon dioxide (CO2) was measured using detector tubes attached to an air-sampling pump . Both NH3 and CO2 concentrations were recorded 3 times a week. Glass petri dishes were used to collect the settled particles of dust. The dishes were firmly attached and located approximately 0.5 m above the floor in 3 different locations within each pen. Settled dust was weighed 3 times a wk, and the average was weekly calculated in mg. The amount of dust was adjusted to be in g/m2. Carcass Characteristics At the end of the experiment, 18 birds from each treatment (3 birds/replicate) were randomly selected and sacrificed by severing the jugular vein. Dressing carcass, drumstick, thigh, breast muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor), and giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) were obtained, weighed, and calculated as a percentage of body weight. Statistical Analysis Data were subjected to a one-way analysis of variance with litter type factor using JMP version 11 . When a significant difference among means was found, means were separated using Duncan's multiple range test. Significance was set as P < 0.05. The results were presented as mean ± SEM (pooled). RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Growth Performance As shown in Table 1, there were no significant differences (P > 0.05) among the bedding types for body weight, feed consumption, FCR, or mortality rate. Consistent with these findings, several investigators [7,15,16,17] reported that the type of bedding material did not affect growth performance traits. Similarly, Sharnam et al.  found that the birds reared on different bedding materials showed non-significant differences for live weight, feed intake, FCR, and livability at 49 d of age. Sawdust, rice husk, sugarcane bagasse, and wheat straw did not differ statistically for live weight, feed consumption, FCR, or survivability . Conversely, Toghyani et al.  concluded that the litter type may affect broiler performance. Research conducted by Al-Homidan and Robertson  demonstrated that broilers raised on wood shavings had significantly heavier body weights and better FCR at 28 and 42 days. Greater weight gain and feed intake were recorded in broilers raised on coconut hull litter as compared with those of the wood shavings treatment . Broiler chickens kept on wood shavings had significantly higher body weights at the end of the experiment (d 42) than the birds maintained on wheat straw and chopped wheat straw . Table 1. Effect of 3 bedding materials on the growth performance of broilers. Bedding material Trait WS CPL WST SEM P-value Body weight at 6 wks, g 2473.6 2549.9 2534.7 32.4 NS Feed consumption, g/bird/day 98.7 98.0 98.9 0.28 NS FCR, g feed/g BW 1.70 1.64 1.66 0.01 NS Total mortality, % 0.83 1.11 1.02 0.09 NS Bedding material Trait WS CPL WST SEM P-value Body weight at 6 wks, g 2473.6 2549.9 2534.7 32.4 NS Feed consumption, g/bird/day 98.7 98.0 98.9 0.28 NS FCR, g feed/g BW 1.70 1.64 1.66 0.01 NS Total mortality, % 0.83 1.11 1.02 0.09 NS WS = Wood shavings, CPL = Copped palm leaves, WST = Wheat straw. FCR = Feed consumed divided by body weight. SEM = Standard error of the mean. NS = Non-significant. View Large Immunoresponse Parameters Cell-mediated response, serum IgM, and relative weight of lymphoid organs are listed in Table 2. With respect to swelling incidence resulting from PHAP injection, it could be observed that the chicks raised on chopped palm leaves had significantly increased (P < 0.05) toe-web swelling after 24 h of inoculation with PHAP compared with the other 2 types of bedding materials. This difference diminished over time. An opposite trend was noticed for serum IgM antibodies. The birds raised on palm leaves exhibited a significantly (P < 0.05) lower concentration of IgM antibodies. The type of bedding material can influence colonization and development of cecal microbiota in broilers . In terms of lymphoid organs, the relative weight of the bursa of Fabricius was significantly (P < 0.05) affected by bedding type, while the relative weight of the spleen remained unaffected. Similarly, Huang et al.  stated that the relative weight of bursa of Fabricius was not altered consistently by different litter materials. Table 2. Effect of 3 bedding materials on immunoresponse parameters and relative weight of lymphoid organs of broilers. Bedding material Item WS CPL WST SEM P-value After 24 h1 0.27b 0.39a 0.21b 0.04 0.005 After 48 h1 0.23a 0.27a 0.10b 0.03 0.05 After 72 h1 0.13 0.18 0.09 0.05 NS Serum IgM level, μg/mL 136.7a 96.8b 125.1a 9.77 0.02 Spleen, % 0.115 0.112 0.123 0.007 NS Bursa of Fabricius, % 0.081a 0.073b 0.061c 0.006 0.05 Bedding material Item WS CPL WST SEM P-value After 24 h1 0.27b 0.39a 0.21b 0.04 0.005 After 48 h1 0.23a 0.27a 0.10b 0.03 0.05 After 72 h1 0.13 0.18 0.09 0.05 NS Serum IgM level, μg/mL 136.7a 96.8b 125.1a 9.77 0.02 Spleen, % 0.115 0.112 0.123 0.007 NS Bursa of Fabricius, % 0.081a 0.073b 0.061c 0.006 0.05 a-cMeans within rows with no common letters are significantly different. WS = Wood shavings, CPL = Copped palm leaves, WST = Wheat straw. n = 18. SEM = Standard error of the mean. NS = Non-significant. 1Swelling response to PHAP injection in mm. View Large Atmospheric Gases and Settled Dust With respect to the air quality inside the house, it could be observed that using chopped palm leaves significantly decreased (P < 0.05) the emission of ammonia as compared to the other bedding materials (Table 3). The lower NH3 released from chopped palm leaves may be due to its higher capacity to absorb moisture from excreta and, in turn, reduce its microbial load compared to the other bedding materials. Carbon dioxide concentration between the treatments was not significantly different (P > 0.05). In agreement with the current results, Al-Homidan and Robertson  reported that ammonia concentration was significantly affected by litter type during 4 to 6 wk of age. Miles et al.  reported that wood shavings and rice hull litters emitted the least NH3 when compared with the commercial litter, while sand and vermiculite litters generated more NH3 at the initial moisture level. Thus, the organic bedding materials performed better than the inorganic types with respect to lower NH3 generation. Tasistro et al.  found that wheat straw appears to be a better choice than wood shavings for reducing NH3 volatilization, especially under the adverse conditions surrounding waterers. Additionally, researchers [8,9] found that the emission of NH3 from poultry houses could be reduced substantially by using refused tea compared with paddy husk and sawdust as litter materials. Conversely, Elwinger and Svensson  stated that there was no difference in NH3 emission related to the type of bedding material. The amount of dust inside the broiler house depends on many factors, including litter material, quality of litter, diet condition, feather status, flock's health, ventilation rate, temperature, and relative humidity. As shown in Table 3, the settled dust concentration was significantly (P < 0.05) lower in pens bedded with chopped palm leaves compared to those bedded with straw or wood shavings. Table 3. Effect of 3 bedding materials on air quality inside broiler house. Bedding material Item WS CPL WST SEM P-value NH3 concentration, ppm 7.31a 4.12b 8.37a 0.33 0.01 CO2 concentration, % 0.14 0.12 0.13 .0057 NS Settled dust concentration, g/m2 10.29a 3.99b 5.92b 0.49 0.01 Bedding material Item WS CPL WST SEM P-value NH3 concentration, ppm 7.31a 4.12b 8.37a 0.33 0.01 CO2 concentration, % 0.14 0.12 0.13 .0057 NS Settled dust concentration, g/m2 10.29a 3.99b 5.92b 0.49 0.01 a,bMeans within rows with no common letters are significantly differed. WS = Wood shavings, CPL = Copped palm leaves, WST = Wheat straw. n = 18. SEM = Standard error of the mean. NS = Non-significant. View Large Carcass Characteristics There were no significant differences among the different types of bedding material for carcass characteristics. However, the use of chopped palm leaves as an alternative choice for bedding material potentially causes an increase in relative weight of the pectoralis major muscle (data not shown). In agreement with our results, Onu et al.  reported that neither carcass traits nor internal organs were adversely affected by the type of bedding material. CONCLUSIONS AND APPLICATIONS Chopped palm leaves can be used as an alternative bedding material without sacrificing performance. It can be used efficiently to improve cell-mediated immunity and to limit the concentrations of atmospheric ammonia and settled dust without penalizing growth performance. Footnotes Primary Audience: Broiler Researchers, Veterinarians. REFERENCES AND NOTES 1. Garcês A., Afonso S. M., Chilundo A., Jairoce C. T.. 2013. 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Journal of Applied Poultry Research – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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