Applicability of Khakshir hay as a litter material for broiler chicken
Dept. of Technology of Animal Products, Agriculture Faculty
Lorestan University, Khoramabad, P.B. 450, IRAN
Khakshir (Sisymbrium afficinalis) is a self-grown plant in gardens, boundary of farms and streams. It is not preferred to be grazed by ruminants. Large quantities of this plant could be gathered during May to August, coincide with seasonal shortage of wood shavings in Lorestan as well as other western areas in Iran. Two hundred forty day-old straight run Arian chicks were randomly allocated to 16 pens (at density of 1.1ft 2/bird) arranged in four rows (blocks) in an open sided partially controlled house to investigate the possibility of using Khakshir hay as a litter source for broiler chicken. Four treatments were considered as 1) Khakshir hay (KH), 2) a mix of 33% Khakshir and 67% plant residues with fine particle size, 3) a mix of 50% Khakshir hay with 50% wood shavings and 4) wood shavings (control). Performance traits along with litter temperature; pH, dustiness score, and moisture content were recorded biweekly up to 56d. Data on carcass weight (CW), carcass yield, mortality, production number, litter nitrogen percent and litter plate count microbial load were collected at 56d. Early (1-14d) ADG, FI and FCE and pH at 14 and 28 d were significantly influenced by the kind of litter (P<0.05). The birds raised on KH showed better performance for and FCE than those on WS and mix litters. The KH litter found to be significantly drier but of higher dustiness score compared to WS at 28d. The mean temperature (at 2-3 cm of depth) differed inconsistently for litters at 14 and 28 days. The mean ultimate nitrogen content significantly differed for litters with the highest (4.10 %) and lowest (3.67 %) values for KH and WS, respectively. It was concluded that, Khakshir hay alone or in combination with fine-particle sized plant residues or wood shavings, could serve as a potential source of litter for broilers. However, as regards heat stress condition, density placements must be further investigated before practical application of this litter source for large-scale commercial use.