Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (9) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Evaluation of ginger (Zingiber officinale) as a feed additive in broiler diets

A A Mohammed and M Yusuf

Department of Animal Science Usmanu Danfodiyo University,
Sokoto, Nigeria


This study was carried out to evaluate ginger (Zingiber officinale) as a feed additive in broiler diets. Thus, eighty four day old Anak strain broiler chicks were fed on various levels of supplemental ginger in addition to a control diet (treatment1) without ginger inclusion. The treatments had 250g, 500g and 750g supplemental ginger inclusion per 100 kg diet respectively.

There were no differences among treatments in all the performance parameters observed. Further studies should be carried out on the use of ginger as a feed additive in broiler diets. 

Keywords: Antibiotics, broiler, diets, feed additives, pro-nutrients


Growth promoters or feed additives are molecules that are added at low rate to animal feeds without changing considerably their composition. They speed up the growth and consequently increase the body size and weight of animals (Biovet 2005). Among all growth promoters, the most commonly used are antibiotics, although nowadays their use is decreasing towards total extinction (Biovet 2005). Some growth promoters act as pronutrients because of the role they play in enhancing the physiology and microbiology of the animals. Pronutrients are substances that could have the same effect as antibiotic feed additives and are defined as micro ingredients included in the formulation of animal feeds with physiological and microbiological functions different from any other nutrient (Biovet, 2005). Many active ingredients from plants are considered as pronutrients and are recently been tried in animal feeds (Biovet 2005). Pronutrients are also sometimes referred to as phytogenic feed additives. Phytogenic feed additives are plant-derived products used in animal feeding to improve their performance. This class of feed additives has recently gained increasing interest, especially for use in swine and poultry. This appears to be strongly driven by a complete ban on most of the antibiotic feed additives within the European Union in 2006 (Windisch et al 2008). 

Antimicrobials have been used in the poultry industry for growth promotion, disease prevention and treatment of infections for many years. However, evidence is mounting that resistant bacteria might be passed from animals to humans. The use of antimicrobials in poultry industry for growth promotion and treatment of infections for many years have caused microbiological and clinical evidence of resistant bacteria that might be passed from animals to humans resulting in infections that are more difficult to treat (Mojtaba 2007). This situation has put tremendous pressure on the poultry industry to withdraw or limit antibiotic use in animal feeds and to look for viable alternatives (Mojtaba 2007). There are serious worries that through over use, the effectiveness of feed antibiotics might diminish and that strains of bacteria would arise which would be resistant to their effect, of greater concern is the possibility or risk that resistance generated on the farm could lead to a loss of effectiveness of key antibiotics in human medicine. Antibiotics and other drug residues in meat and milk are dangerous to hypersensitive consumers of these products and may subject all consumers to potentially dangerous amounts of these substances (Cole and Garrett 1980).  

Because of the current perceived dangers of having drug resistant microbes from the use of antibiotics as feed additives and the current ban by some countries on using antibiotics in animal feeds it would be of great importance to find suitable substitute especially through the use of phytogenics. Also the advent of present day organic agriculture discourages the use of inorganic feed additives in animal feeds. Zingiber officinale is a perennial plant, commonly known as ginger. Ginger may act as a pro-nutrient because of the vast active ingredients it has been reported to contain. Herbs Hands Healing (2011) reported that ginger contains volatile oils like borneol, camphene, citral, eucalyptol, linalool, phenllandrene, zingiberine, zingiberol (gingerol, zingirone and shogaol) and resin. Some gingers’ medicinal properties are contained in the chemicals responsible for the taste, the most noteworthy being gingerol and shogaol. A protein digesting enzyme (Zingibain) found in ginger is believed to improve digestion as well as kill parasites and their eggs. It was also reported to enhance antibacterial and anti inflammatory actions and it is thought to assist other antibacterials, such as antibiotics, by up to 50%. The nutrients found in ginger include carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, minerals and vitamins. Among these Phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin C may be found. Ginger contains about 12 antioxidant constituents, the combined actions of which have been regarded as being more powerful than vitamin C (Herbs Hands Healing 2011). The stem of this plant is used as a popular cooking spice throughout the world. Nigeria was rated as the number five in world ginger production with an estimated annual output of 138,000 tonnes (FAO 2008). The objective of the research was to evaluate the performance of broiler birds on various levels of supplemental ginger inclusion.  

Materials and methods

Processing and cost of experimental ginger

The ginger used in this experiment was purchased fresh, washed and sliced. The sliced ginger was sun-dried and was later ground into powder. The powdered ginger was then sealed in polythene bag before incorporation into the feed. On price analysis 1 kg of the powdered experimental ginger costs seven hundred and eight Nigerian Naira ( N708). On conversion a gramme of the powdered ginger costs approximately N0.71. One hundred and fifty Nigerian Naira was equivalent to one US Dollar at the time of the purchase and processing.   

Experimental diets

Four diets were formulated for both the starter and finisher phases. Diet G0 served as control (without ginger inclusion). Diets G250, G500 and G750 had 250g, 500g and 750g supplemental ginger inclusions per 100kg diet, respectively. The composition of the starter and finisher diets is shown in table 1.

Experimental birds and general flock management

Eighty four (84) day old Anak strain broiler chicks of mixed sexes were purchased and used during the experiment. Twenty one (21) chicks were housed for each of the four dietary treatments compared, with three (3) pens per treatment as replicates and seven birds in each replicate using completely randomized design (CRD). The birds were raised in deep litter and brooded for the first three (3) weeks of age. The first and second gumboro disease vaccines were administered on the 10th and 24th days of age. Newcastle disease vaccine (Lasota strain) was administered at the fifth week of age. Water and feed were provided ad-libitum. 

Data collection 

Weekly average feed intake was recorded by subtracting feed left over from quantity of feed given during the week. Body weight was also recorded on weekly basis by subtracting previous week’s body weight from the current weight for each week, average daily gain and cost of feed per kg gain were also calculated. Mortality was recorded throughout the period of the study as it occurred. 

Table 1.  Ingredient and chemical composition of diets for broilers (0-6) Weeks


(0-4 weeks)

 ( 5-6 weeks)




Groundnut cake



Wheat offal









Bone meal












Total (kg)



Calculated analysis

Cost of feed (N/Kg)

ME (Kcal/Kg)





Crude protein (%)



Ether extract (%)



Crude fibre(%)



Lysine (%)



Methionine (%)

Calcium (%)





Phosphorus (%)



Statistical analysis

The data generated from the experiment were subjected to the analysis of variance (ANOVA) using SAS (2005).

Results and discussion

The results of the performance of broilers on various levels of supplemental ginger from 0 – 6 weeks of age are as shown in Table 2. 

Table 2. Performance parameters of broilers (0-6 weeks) of age on various levels of  supplemental ginger inclusions










F W, g







WG, g







ADWG, g/d 







FI ,g/d







ADFI, g/d














CFG, N  







MORT, no      







FW= Final Weight. WG= Weight Gain. ADWG= Average Daily Weight Gain. FI= Feed Intake.ADFI= Average Daily Feed Intake. FCR= Feed Conversion Ratio. CFG= Cost of Feed per Kg Gain. MORT = Mortality (in number). SEM= Standard Error of Means. P= Probability.  N= Nigerian Naira. N150 was equivalent to 1 US Dollar at the time of the research

The results of the growth performance showed that there were no differences across all the treatment means for all the parameters analyzed. These results could be compared with the findings of Dieumou et al (2009) who fed ginger essential oils to broilers and found that there were no differences among the ginger oil diets and the control in terms of feed intake, body weight gain and feed conversion ratio. There were no differences in feed intake, final weight, weight gain and feed conversion ratio among treatments. Herawati (2010) reported that hubbard strain broilers fed 2% supplemental red ginger in the diet had significantly higher final body weight than those on the control diet. The non significant difference obtained from this study could be as a result of the differences in quantity and or cultivar of the ginger used, strain of broiler used or environment in which the research was conducted. Also there were no differences in feed intake in broilers on treatment G750 which could be compared with the work of Ademola et al (2004), who reported higher (P>0.05) feed intake on broilers on dietary supplementary ginger inclusion. The results were however not in agreement with the report of Herawati (2010), who stated that broilers fed 2% dietary supplementary red ginger meal had significantly lower feed intake than those on the control diet. This disagreement could be due to the differences in cultivar and or quantity of ginger used, the strain of broilers used or environment in which the research was conducted. Moreover, there were no differences in feed conversion ratio on broilers on treatment G750. This could be compared with the work of Moorthy et al (2009) and Onimisi et al (2005) who reported significantly better feed conversion ratio in ginger fed groups of broilers compared to control.  

There were no differences in cost of feed per kg gain for broilers on dietary supplementary ginger inclusion. These results could be compared with the work of Minh et al (2010) who reported that supplementation of dried ginger to broiler diets led to improved performance and reduced feed cost. In summary this study indicated that ginger did not show any negative or positive effect in long time feeding. This occurrence could probably be as a result of the sun drying employed in the processing of the experimental ginger. Though, Eze and Agbo (2011) reported that ginger is best preserved in its natural form under open-air sun drying conditions. However Ebewele and Jimoh (1981) reported that sun drying of ginger results in loss of some volatile oils by evaporation and destruction of some heat sensitive properties. More researches should be carried out on the use of ginger in broiler diets by dietary supplementation of different cultivars of ginger, using various quantities and processing methods of ginger, using different strains of broilers and also using various sample sizes of broilers.


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Received 4 March 2011; Accepted 15 August 2011; Published 1 September 2011

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