Background of Study
Poultry production has an unquestionable propensity to close the existing gap in animal protein consumption in the country. This according to Ibe (2004) is because of their short gestation and generation intervals, large number, fast growth, greater affordability, ease of raising, absence of taboos to production and consumption and absence of barrier to production in any climatic zone in the country. Obioha (1992a) and Oluyemi and Roberts (2000) further stated that poultry enjoys a relative advantage over other livestock in terms of its ease of management, high turn-over, quick return to capital investment and wide acceptance of its product for human consumption.
Poultry industry occupies a unique position in the livestock sector of Nigeria because of the yearning demand for its products. Ikeme et al. (1986) pointed out that the industry sprang up with the advent of large poultry farmers which produced far more eggs than can be sold locally. Agriculturalists and nutritionists generally agree that development of the poultry industry is the fastest means of bridging the protein deficiency gap in the country. Oluyemi and Roberts (2000) stated that the problem of protein malnutrition is enormous in developing countries like Nigeria; poultry is probably the fastest route to achieve any appreciable improvement in the nutritional standard of the populace because of its short generation interval, quick turnover rate and relatively low capital investment, they also stated that increased egg production is one sure way of achieving the target of providing quality animal protein at a minimum cost to the consumers.
The highest productivity of eggs in the Nigerian poultry industry apparently stemmed from the use of high producing strains of birds as well as the development of balanced feeds, intensive housing and better poultry equipment (Obioha, 1992b; Oluyemi and Roberts, 2000).
For some time now, the Nigerian poultry industry has devoted more attention to the exotic breeds of chicken due to their high performance in terms of body weight, egg-production and feed to gain ratio.
Egg is one of the most nutritious animal products. It is an excellent source of high quality protein in human food that is common and affordable. Documented reports indicate that two eggs a day are sufficient to 17.2% of an adult person’s protein needs as well as essential vitamins and trace element (Ikeme et al., 1986).
Most of the eggs in the Nigerian market are produced by exotic breeds of chicken genetically developed for egg production.
Increased egg production in Nigeria is being hampered by high cost of feed, which constitutes about 70-80% of the total cost of egg production (Acromovic, 2001). The rapid development of intensive poultry and egg production has been accompanied by an increased competition between humans and animals for maize which is a major staple food in the main poultry production zones. This competition could be alleviated by replacing maize in poultry feed by locally available agricultural by-products that are less exploited by humans. (Teguia, 1995).
According to Oluyemi and Roberts (1999), the competition between man and poultry for food ingredient is basically due to insufficient production of local feed items. As a matter of fact, the use of grain for feeding poultry when human needs have not been met raises questions of economic and moral justification. The rapid expansion and success of the poultry industry would depend mostly on the availability of good quality and relatively inexpensive feed ingredients for the formulation of poultry feeds. Dependence on the alternative source of ingredients, especially, when it encourage a shift to ingredient for which there is less competition, may help if it is sufficiently available. To a great extent by-products are cheaper to use in poultry ration since there is little or no competition for them. These may be agricultural, industrial or distillery by- products. The by-products include palm kernel meal, Bambara waste, wheat offal, etc. Studies in the tropics and else where had revealed the potentials of these by-products as feed ingredients even though they may be included at low levels in the diet of animals. Obioha(1992b) estimated the level of consumption of animal protein in Nigeria to be about 8g per day, at about 27g less than the minimum requirement recommended by the National Research Council of the United States of America.
Residues and industrial by-products generally contain high levels of fibre hence they are not commonly used in compounding feeds. To fully exploit their cost saving potential and waste recycling value, it is necessary to study the factors which inhibit their feed value namely their indigestibility as a result of their high fibre levels and their low utilization as supplementary energy source. Knowledge of the content and utilization of the available fillers will further guide ration formulators and feed millers on their levels of inclusion in diets.