Aflatoxigenic fungi common to poultry feeds from Nigerian feed mills were investigated and their effects on broiler production were determined. Sixty two weeks old Abor-acre broilers were randomly divided into 5 treatment groups. Each treatment group had 3 replicates of 4 birds each. Birds in each treatment group were fed feed from one of five companies. Feed intake and body weights were determined. Blood samples were analyzed for hematological parameters. Feeds were analyzed for aflatoxin concentration using reverse phase High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Aflatoxigenic fungi were identified by sequencing of the fungal ITS region. The major fungal contaminants identified in most of the feed samples were Aspergillus and Rhizopus species. Total aflatoxin content (AFB1+AFB2+AFG1 +AFG2) of the feeds ranged from <0.8 to 370±120 µg/kg. Feeds from three companies had aflatoxin concentrations above the European Community Regulatory Limits (ECRL, 20 μg/kg). Aflatoxin level was positively related to packed cell volume (PCV) and hemoglogin (Hb), although the relationship was not statistically significant. PCV and Hb were positively related. A negatively significant relationship was observed between the aflatoxin levels and WBC of the birds, feed intake and reduced body weight possibly because of the high aflatoxin concentrations in the feeds. The study has highlighted the effects of long storage time and poor processing of feed on intake and broiler performance.
Key words: Aflatoxin, broilers, feed, hematology, fungi.
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