Livestock Research for Rural Development 26 (12) 2014 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Relative effects of Moringa oleifera leaf meal and molasses as additives in grain sorghum based diets on performance of growing chicks in Tanzania

J T Kaijage, S K Mutayoba1, A Katule1 and A M V Kakengi2

Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, Department of Animal Production and Marketing Infrastructures,
P.O. Box 9152,Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania
1 Sokoine University of Agriculture, Department of Animal Science and Production, Sokoine University of Agriculture,
P.O. Box Morogoro, Tanzania.
2 Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, P.O. Box 661 Arusha, Tanzania


The effects of supplementing Moringa oleifera leaf meal (MOLM) and molasses to grain sorghum based diets on performance of growing chicks was studied in a 2x3 factorial design for 8 weeks. The study used two grain sorghum varieties: high (HTS) and low (LTS) tannin; three supplementary strategies of non-supplemented,  10% DM- molasses and 10% DM-MOLM to make six diets, CTL1, SCM2., MOL1 and CTL2, SCM2 and MOL2 respectively.

Survival, colour of body parts, growth parameters and feed conversion ratio were not influenced by type of sorghum.  The DMI was higher in HTS and leg abnormality incidence (LAI) was higher in LTS. Survival and growth parameters were not influenced by type of supplementation. The supplementation of molasses aggravated, while supplementation of MOLM prevented, occurrence of LAI. The birds fed molasses showed paleness but those fed MOLM showed yellowing of body parts.  The DMI and FCR were better in birds fed CTL1 compared with fed CTL2 based diets. Supplementation of molasses and MOLM improved DMI and FCR in HTS compared with LTS. HTS based diets in growing chicks should be supplemented with energy sources, minerals and pigments; while LTS based diets should be supplemented with minerals and pigments. Sugar cane molasses improves FCR in HTS but requires supplementation of minerals and pigments.Use of molasses as an additive to LTS based could impair FCR and aggravate LAI and is not recommended. The use of MOLM in HTS and LTS based diets can improve FCR and prevent prevalence of LAI and has the potential to produce coloured products.

Key words: agroforestry, leg weakness, minerals, mortality, pigments


Worldwide sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is the second cereal crop used after maize in poultry feeds (FAO 2005). Sorghum plant crop is preferred because it has adaptive features that favor its growth in areas where other cereals cannot survive (Haussmann et al 2002 and Pray and Nagarajan 2009). The nutritive value of grain sorghum is well established and is comparable to maize in poultry feeding (BSTID-NRC 1996 and Ebadi et al 2005). However, the presence of anti-nutritional factors such as condensed tannins has been compromising their feeding value. Tannins form complexes which may render unavailability of nutrients and may impair feed palatability (Awad et al 2001). In addition, tannin levels of more than 1% in poultry diets reduces dry matter intake, body weight gain and feed efficiency (Hassan et al 2003 and Ravindran et al 2006).This situation has prompted scientists to devise various strategies for improving the feeding value of high tannin grain sorghum (HTS) in poultry. Various strategies and techniques aiming at reducing tannin content, improving digestibility or supplementing unavailable nutrients are well documented or suggested (Cramer et al 2003 and Ravindran et al 2006). However, the adoption of proposed strategies and techniques for improvement of grain sorghum feeding value have not been forthcoming since some of them are expensive, cumbersome or not practical under farmer conditions in developing countries. Thus, supplementing the deficient nutrients in grain sorghum based diets using cheap and locally available feed ingredients could be a viable strategic option in improving feeding value of grain sorghum in poultry.

In the Tanzanian context, Moringa oleifera leaf meal (MOLM) and final sugar cane molasses could be used as feasible feed additives in improving the feeding value of grain sorghum for poultry. Moringa oleifera is well distributed, survives in harsh conditions and contains high annual dry matter production as well as balanced amino acids compared to soybeans (Makkar and Becker 1996; Makkar and Becker 1997 and Becker and Makkar 2000). Furthermore, molasses a by-product in sugar manufacturing industries is rich in highly digestible carbohydrates and minerals, exerts a tonic effect, induces palatability and could eliminate dustiness in poultry feeds. Also, the utilization of MOLM and molasses in poultry feeding is well documented (Keshavarz et al 1980; Kakengi et al 2007 and Katanga 2013). However, there is scanty scientific evidence showing the effectiveness of MOLM and molasses in improving the feeding value of grain sorghum. Therefore, based on this gap, a comparative study was conducted to evaluate the effects of supplementing MOLM and molasses to grain sorghum variety based diets on performance of growing chicks. It was hypothesized that MOLM and molasses supplementation to HTS and low tannin grain sorghum (LTS) based diets could equally improve the feeding value of grain sorghum and ultimately improve performance of growing chicks.

Materials and methods

Location of the study

This study was conducted at poultry unit of the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in the Department of Animal Science and Production (DASP) between 6 o and 7 o South and 37 o and 38 o east within an altitude of about 500 to 600m above sea level at the foot of Uluguru plateau mountains within Morogoro Municipality in Eastern part of Tanzania. It is characterized by ambient temperature between 20-27 oC in the coolest months of April to August and 30 - 35 oC during the hottest month of October to January. The annual rainfall ranges from 600-1000mm.

Experimental feed ingredients and diets

The two grain sorghum varieties (GSV) for HTS and LTS used in the present study were locally known as Serena and Mbangala respectively. The GSV were purchased from local food market, ground with a hammer mill and passed through 2mm sieve to produce grain sorghum meal and stored in clean nylon bags for the entire study period. MOLM was obtained by harvesting Moringa oleifera leaves from DASP compound. Moringa tree branches were cut, spread out and dried under the shade for a period of 3 to 4 days, threshed carefully before milling and ground with hammer mill to produce MOLM and were also stored in nylon bags for the entire study period. Final sugar cane molasses was purchased from Mtibwa sugar processing company, packed and stored in plastic containers. Other feed ingredients used in this study were purchased from local livestock feed dealers. The proximate composition, ash, phosphorus and calcium for feed ingredients and diets were determined according to the methods of AOAC (1990). Metabolizable Energy (ME/ kcal/kg) content of feed ingredients and experimental diets were estimated by prediction equations as expressed in NRC (1994) and MOLM, ME/Kgcal was estimated by prediction equation established by Carpenter and Clegg (1956). Condensed tannins in GSV and MOLM were determined using butanol/HCL method. The diets were formulated to meet or exceed the MacDonald (1998) nutrient recommendations for growing chicks.

Experimental design and dietary treatments

Two hundred and seventy (270) day old commercial hybrid layer strain chicks with a mean weight of 40.9 gm were randomly allotted to six dietary treatments arranged in three replicates in a 2x3 factorial design for HTS(4.72% DM tannin) vs LTS (2.32%DM-tannin) and three supplement strategies (SPS): non- supplemented (control), 10% DM - molasses and 10% DM - MOLM  designated as CTL1, SCM1 and MOL1 and CTL2, SCM2 and MOL2 respectively. The diets (D 1-D6) are shown in Table 1.

Experimental birds and their management

Birds were wing banded and randomly allocated to the six dietary treatments in three replicates per treatment. Each dietary treatment had 45 birds and 15 birds per replicate. Birds in each replicate were randomly placed in a single pen in an open ended poultry house in a deep litter system. Birds were weighed individually immediately after arrival using electronic sensitive weighing machine to obtain individual initial bird weight and thereafter on a weekly basis for body weight changes. Birds were vaccinated against Newcastle and Gumboro disease and subjected to a preliminary period of one week so as to acclimatize them to the experimental pens and diets. Water and feed were provided without restriction. Light was supplied by electric bulbs and sun at night and day time respectively. Feed offered and leftovers were recorded daily. The amount of feed offered was 20 percent above the expected requirement so as to allow liberal consumption. The residual feed was weighed daily before supplying another feed for the next day. Feed intake was calculated by taking the difference between the feed offered and residual in each replicate.  Daily weight gain (DWG) was calculated as individual average weight gain over a period of time. DFI (g/bird) over DWG (g/bird) was used to calculate FCR. Birds with abnormal legs were recorded daily. Then leg abnormality incidences (LAI) were calculated as the ratio of birds with leg abnormalities to total number of birds available x 100.

Statistical analysis

Data on growth, DMI, FCR and LAI parameters were analyzed in accordance with a 2x3 factorial design, using the General Linear Model procedure of SAS software version 9.1 for windows (2007). The Least Square Difference was used to compare means of each variable. The analytical model for growth parameters, DMI and FCR was as follows:
= μ + Vi + Sj+ (VS)ij+ b(X ijk-x)+ Eijk


Yijk = Observation of kth bird assigned to ith GSV subjected to jth SPS;

μ = overall mean to all observations; Vi = effect of GSV based diet (HTS or LTS);

Sj = the effect of SPS based diet (CTL, SCM or MOL);

(VS)ik= the interaction between GSV and SPS;

Xijk = Initial weight of an individual bird;

x = Overall mean for initial body weight;

b = regression coefficient of Yijk on Xijk;

eijk = random error

Table 1: Gross composition of experimental chick diets








Moringa leaf meal





11. 3









Sorghum meal (High Tannin)







Sorghum meal ( Low Tannin)







Fish meal







Sunflower seed meal





















Bone meal














Chemical composition, %

Dry matter







Crude protein







Crude fiber







Ether extract





















Methionine + cystine           





















ME (MJ/kgDM)








General condition and performance of birds fed GSV diets

No mortalities were observed for the entire experimental period. The paleness of body parts were observed in HTS and LTS dietary groups.The DMI was higher by 21.9% in HTS compared to LTS dietary groups.  The LAI characterized by swelling of hock joints and slipped tendons were noted in 8.5% of experimental birds. However, LAI was higher by 436% in LTS compared to HTS dietary group.

General condition and performance of birds fed SPS diets

 During the study no mortality cases were recorded amongst SPS dietary groups for the entire study period. The paleness of body parts was observed in CTL and SCM dietary group. But, yellowing of body parts was noted in MOL dietary group. The LAI was higher in SCM by 12.3% compared to CTL dietary group. However, there was no LAI observed in MOL dietary group. The growth parameters did not differ among SPS dietary groups. However, there was a significant interaction between sorghum varieties and SPS on DMI and FCR. The DMI decreased in SCM1 and MOL1 by 10.4% and 14.9% respectively whilst it increased in SCM2 and MOL2 by 37.5% and 10.7% respectively. The FCR was improved in SCM1 and MOL1 by 7.6% and 11.2% respectively whilst it was worse in SCM2 and MOL2 by 44.6% and 20.8% respectively.

Table 2: Performance parameters of growing chicks fed high and low tannin grain sorghum variety based diets (0-8 weeks of age)






Initial weight, g

43.2 a




Weight gain, g/d





DM intake, g/d





Feed conversion ratio, g feed/g gain





Leg abnormality incidences, %






Table 3: Performance parameters of growing chicks fed Moringa (MOL) and molasses supplemented (SCM) sorghum based diets (0-8 weeks of age)


Supplementary diet






Initial weight, g






Final weight, g






Daily weight gain, g






LAI, %






ab Means along the same row with different superscripts differ at p<0.05)

Table 4: Interaction of tannin levels in grain sorghum variety and type of supplementary strategy on dry matter intake and feed conversion ratio of growing chicks (0-8 weeks of age).












DM intake, g


41.4 ab



41.1 ab

33.1 ab



Feed conversion, g feed/g gain










ab Means along the same row within main effects with different superscripts differ at p < 0.05


The absence of bird mortality observed in the present study amongst HTS and LTS dietary groups indicates that tannin had no lethal effects on survival. Dietary tannin levels more than 3% have detrimental effects on survival according to Ali and Mahmood (2013). Our results agree with previous studies (Hassan et al 2003).

The paleness of body parts (shank, feet and beak) observed in HTS and LTS dietary groups are attributed to the absence of xanthophylls and carotenoid pigments in sorghum grain (NRC 1994;  Sauvant et al 2004). These results concur with other research results (Moura et al 2011; Garcia et al 2013). Meat and egg yolk colour is a valuable quality attribute evaluated by consumers. The colored poultry products are an indication of meat freshness and directly influence the consumer's final purchase decision. The success of a product depends on consumers' acceptance and its quality and appearance are amongst the most valuable features. Therefore utilization of sorghum-based diets in poultry requires addition of synthetic or natural pigments to improve coloration of the products (Assuena et al 2008; Garcia et al 2013; Schiedt 1998).

The prevalence of LAI observed amongst the chickens fed sorghum grain is congruent with other studies (Jacob et al 1996; Hassan et al 2003). These findings may be attributed to inadequacy of minerals particularly phosphorus and calcium in sorghum grain and negative effects of tannins or phytates (Khalid et al 2003; Sebastian et al 1998). Multiple phenolic hydroxyl groups of tannins may form stable complexes with metal ions and other macromolecules like polysaccharides (Kondo et al 2007) and interact with minerals to form precipitates and thus reduce their availability (Hassan et al 2003). The minerals which are ionized in the stomach (iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium) are prone to variety of absorption interferences (Arigator and Samman 1994). Tannins-nutrients interaction may be one of the means by which tannins affect the digestive processes resulting in reduced availability of the nutrients in the gut. Moreover, the phytic acid is not a desirable dietary agent because it chelates multi-valent metal ions, particularly phosphorus, zinc, calcium and iron and proteins which results in insoluble salts leading to unavailability of those minerals (Bryden et al 2007). Calcium and phosphorus are the most abundant minerals in bone . Therefore, deficiency of calcium and phosphorus could negatively affect development of bone matrix and exert bone deformities. Bone is a highly complex structure, and its composition varies according to nutritional status of the animal (Musharaf and Latshaw 1991; Sebastian et al 1998). The results suggest the use of sorghim based diets in growing chicks should be accompanied with high supplementation of  minerals or use of phytase to curb the prevalence of LAI. The higher LAI in LTS compared with the HTS dietary group possibly indicates presence of more phytates in LTS.

The higher DMI observed in HTS than LTS dietary groups corroborates with data from other researchers (Nyakoti and Atkinson 1995; Nyakoti et al 1997). This finding indicates energy inadequacy in HTS and energy adequacy in LTS. The lower metabolizable energy in HTS due to negative effect of tannins (Elkin et al 1996) may be the reason for the increase of DMI  as compensatory effect. These findings suggest HTS should either be supplemented with other energy sources or treated to reduce the amount of tannins.

The comparable growth parameter values observed amongst HTS and LTS dietary groups  was attributed to the increase of DMI observed in HTS dietary group which perhaps offset the negative effect of tannins on nutrients such as proteins and amino acids responsible for body accretion. These findings suggest utilization of HTS in diets of growing chicks has no detrimental effects on growth performance. These results concur with other previous studies (Ambula et al 2001; Gadzirayi et al 2012).

The moderate lower FCR values observed in HTS than LTS dietary groups though were not significant suggest use of HTS in growing chicks could impair FCR. These findings were attributed by higher DMI noted in HTS compared to LTS dietary group. These findings suggest use of HTS in growing chicks should be supplemented with cheap energy sources to curb negative effects of tannins and  reduce DMI. These results are in agreement with other research reports (Sannamani 2002).

The paleness of body parts (shank, feet and legs) observed amongst SCM dietary groups may be was attributed to the absence of xanthophylls and carotenoid pigments in molasses. Yellowing of body parts noted in moringa  leaf meal diets compares well with other research reports (Kaijage 2003; Olugbemi 2009). These findings may be attributed to the presence of xanthophylls and carotenoid pigments in moringa  leaf meal. The leaves of moringa are rich in biologically active xanthophylls, the carotenoid which causes yellowing of skin and shank.  Therefore utilization of moringa leaf meal as additive in sorghum based diets could improve colour of poultry products and reduce the expense of using synthetic pigments.

The higher LAI in SCM compared to CTL dietary group may be attributed to the effect of sugar cane molasses (Alvarez 1977; Ly 1990) that probably affect the bioavailability and utilization of phosphorous and calcium. Nutrient losses caused by final molasses may be partly due to osmotic effects caused by the great quantity of potassium ions or the laxative effect associated with insufficient intestinal saccharase used for the complete hydrolization of sucrose (Obando et al 1969; Ly and Velázquez 1969). These findings suggest that 10% supplementation of final sugar molasses to sorghum-based diets could exaggerate LAI in growing chicks.  

The interaction of GSV and SPS on DMI and FCR observed in the present study indicates energy adequacy in LTS and inadequacy in HTS due to the tannin effect. The decrease of DMI and FCR in SCM1 and MOL1 compared to CTL1 dietary group was attributed to the effect of molasses and moringa leaf meal compensating for deficiency in energy in HTS. The increase in dietary energy concentration  tends to decrease DMI in poultry ( MacDonald et al 1998; NRC 1994).Therefore these findings suggest utilization of molasses and MOLM as an additive to HTS based diet in growing chicks could improve DMI and eventually FCR.

However, the increase of DMI and FCR observed in SCM2 compared to CTL2 dietary group is not clear but may be  attributed to the high palatability of molasses or the negative effect of molasses on energy utilization (Alvarez 1977 and Ly 1990). Thus, use of sugar cane molasses as an additive to LTS is not beneficial as it could partially aggravate DMI and ultimately impair FCR. Similarly, the increase of DMI and FCR observed in MOL2 compared to CTL2 dietary groups   may be associated with either bulkiness or high palatability of MOLM (Kaijage 2003; Makanjuola et al 2014).The utilization of MOLM as an additive to LTS could partially increase DMI and impair FCR. 



We are grateful to the Tanzanian Government through Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development for funding the project.


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Received 13 August 2014; Accepted 30 October 2014; Published 1 December 2014

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