Emblica officinalis or Amla is extensively cultivated all over India. Potent with the quality of re-vitalisation, the fruits of the plant are used in Ayurveda as an anti-stress agent.
Further, the phyto-chemical analysis of Amla fruit powder reveals the presence of medicinally important bioactive compounds which can be extensively used to improve productivity in broilers.
Amla fruit is one of the richest sources of ascorbic acid, minerals, amino acids, tannins, and phenolic compounds like gallic and tannic acids. These compounds serve as the growth promoters in broiler chickens.
What are growth promoters?
Growth promoters are chemical and biological substances added to the diet with the aim to improve the growth, utilisation of nutrients and enhance the production and financial results in animal husbandry.
The positive effect of these growth promoters is expressed through better appetite, improved body weight and feed conversion ratio (FCR), stimulation of the immune system and increased vitality, etc.
But, why these growth promoters are added to the chicken’s diet?
This is because of the ban on the use of antibiotic growth promoters in poultry. Herbal preparations are being tried as feed additives as an alternative to antibiotics to increase feed efficiency and growth rate in broiler chickens.
How Amla acts as a growth promoter in broiler chickens?
This research was carried out at Institutional Animal Ethics Committee of College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University, Gujarat.
1351-day-old, unsexed broiler chicks (Ven-Cobb 400 strain) were purchased from a local hatchery, weighed, and randomly assigned to one of the three treatments with three replicates of 15 chicks based on a completely randomised design.
The three treatments were as follows –
- T1: Basal diet as per BIS standards
- T2: Basal diet supplemented with 0.4% of Emblica officinalisfruit powder
- T3: Basal diet supplemented with 0.8% of Emblica officinalisfruit powder.
They raised broilers on deep litter housing system for 6 weeks. Feed and water were provided to them throughout the experiment as per their need.
Broilers were fed in three phases as per BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) specifications:
- Pre-starter (0-10 days)
- Starter (11-21 days)
- Finisher (22-42 days)
Chicks were individually weighed at weekly intervals along with their feed consumption and FCR (FCR=feed intake/weight gain). Mortality was recorded daily.
Based on the current market price of various particulars, the researchers calculated the feed cost-economics of broiler production in different treatment groups.
Results of the research
The average body weight of the birds at the end of 6th week was higher in the groups T2 and T3 compared to the group T1. In other words, the birds whose diet was supplemented with E. officinalis fruit powder at the rate of 0.4% and 0.8% had higher overall body weights at the end of 6th week compared to un-supplemented group. They also had higher weekly body weight gain.
What can you conclude from the research?
The higher body weights observed in E. Officinalis supplemented groups can be attributed to the anabolic and antioxidant effect of ascorbic acid, gallic acid and tannic acids present in Amla.
The research results are further backed by various preclinical findings where an increase in the body weight of the birds fed with polyherbal feed premix containing Amla was observed.
The cost of the feed per kilogram of live weight production was similar among the treatment groups. However, the profit per bird was the highest in group T2 followed by group T3 and lowest in group T1. The higher net profit per bird in E. Officinalis supplemented groups can be attributed to higher body weight compared to the un-supplemented group and similar feed intakes among all the treatment groups.
Though the research results indicate that dietary addition of E. officinalis (Amla) fruit powder at the rate of 0.4% and 0.8% had higher growth rate and net profit per bird in commercial broiler chickens i.e. it shows a positive response in the present study, but further tests need to be done at different supplemental levels and in different ration compositions to get the best results.
Reference: Patel AP, Bhagwat SR, Pawar MM, Prajapati KB, Chauhan HD, Makwana RB. Evaluation of Emblica officinalis fruit powder as a growth promoter in commercial broiler chickens. Vet World. 2016;9(2):207-10.