Growth performance, haematology and serum biochemistry of West African dwarf sheep fed cassava peel - oil palm leaf meal based diets in a hot humid tropics

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The growth performance, haematological and serum biochemical characteristics of thirty-six West African Dwarf (WAD) sheep of about 10 - 12 months of age and averaged 8.53kg in weight were sourced from the College flock. Four dietary treatments designated as T1, T2, T3 and T4 were formulated to contain 0%, 10%, 20% and 30% oil palm leaf meal (OPLM) respectively were randomly assigned to the animals. The experimental animals were divided into four groups of nine animals each, with each group replicated thrice with three animals per replicate. Each group was allotted to one of the diets in a completely randomized design. The animals were weighed at the beginning of the trial and weekly subsequently and data for growth performance were generated. Blood samples were obtained from one animal in each replicate, and data generated were analyzed statistically. Average daily feed intake, total dry matter intake and average daily weight gain were significantly (P<0.05) influenced by the dietary treatment, with animals on T4 group having higher and better values. Feed conversion ratio (FCR) also differed significantly (P<0.05) with sheep on T3 and T4 (11.82 and 11.49 respectively) having the best FCR. The haematology showed that the packed cell volume (PCV), red blood cell (RBC), and mean cell haemoglobin concentration (MCV) were significantly (P < 0.05) improved at 10%, 20% and 30% inclusion levels of OPLM, respectively. Sheep in treatment groups had improved (P < 0.05) white blood cell (WBC) count than those on the control group. Serum biochemistry results showed that total protein, albumin and globulin were significantly influenced (P < 0.05) and tended to increase with increasing levels of test ingredient. Sheep in treatment groups had higher (P < 0.05) urea values than those on control. Creatinine values at 20% and 30% inclusion differed significantly (P < 0.05) with the control value. Cholesterol was significantly influenced (P < 0.05) and followed an irregular trend across the treatment groups. The results showed that inclusion of OPLM had a beneficial effect on the general performance of the WAD sheep. Therefore, 30% OPLM supplementation was recommended for optimum performance in WAD sheep.

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