The need to reduce cost of production of meat animal has necessitated the use of plant materials with medicinal properties as feed additives capable of minimizing the influence of pathogenic microbes and improving performance of the animal. This study investigated the effect of such medicinal plant materials Garcinia kola on the growth performance and the haematological parameters of 20 weeks old rabbits. Thirty six rabbits of mixed breed and mixed sexed were used for the experiment, which lasted for eight weeks (56 days). The rabbits were randomly assigned to four dietary treatments: T1 with no (0%), T2 (2.5%), T3(5%) and T4(7.5%) of G. kola inclusion. The rabbits were housed in 2m × 1m × 1m cages per three rabbits in a 4 × 3 CRD experimental design whereby each treatment had three replicates, with each replicate having 4 rabbits and each treatment comprised 12 rabbits. During the eight week period of the experiment, feed and water were given ad libtum and while similar managerial and sanitary measures were applied for all the animals. Daily feed intake and growth performance of animals in each unit were monitored. At the beginning and the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected from the ear and analyzed for haematological parameters Hb, PCV, RBC, WBC and Plasma proteins). The result showed that G. kola has significant effect on the feed intake, growth rate, haemoglobin, PCV, RBC, WBC and Plasma protein. The feed intake decreased in all rabbits on G. kola treated feeds; numerical values obtained were 332 ± 0.32, 285 ± 0.52, 288 ± 0.12 and 262 ± 0.33 g/week for treatment 1, 2, 3, 4 respectively. Weight depression was also observed similarly in all the rabbits on Garcinia treated feeds with T2 having weight loss of 0.36 ± 0.11, T30.35 ± 0.12 and T4 0.64 ± 0.10kg.
Rabbits on Garcinia treated feeds also have lower Hb, PCV, Plasma proteins and higher WBC and RBC compared to the initial values showing G. kola. G. kola appear to contain substances which depress feed intake and growth performance and the effect seem to increase with higher concentration. However, the RBC and WBC increased, it is therefore recommended that the use of G. kola should be at low levels of inclusion or intermittently not continuous.
Key words: Garcinia kola, growth performance, rabbits.
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