Livestock Research for Rural Development 31 (4) 2019 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Effect of supplementation of poultry litter-based diet on body weight gain of cattle

Gebreslassie Gebru, Desta Tekle, Meseret Redae, Minister Birhanie, Mulalem Zenebe1 and Hailay Hagos

Abergelle Agricultural Research Center, PO Box 44, Abyi Adi, Ethiopia
1 Shire-Mytsebri Agricultural Research Center, Shire, Ethiopia


This study was conducted at Hadush-TekliT village in Tanqua Abergelle district of northern Ethiopia to evaluate the effect of supplementation of poultry litter-based diet on body weight gain of cattle. Twenty-four farmers who provided two similar in weight intact male cattle were involved in the study. Initial body weight of the cattle was 196+45.2 kg. The treatments were supplementation of 1.8 kg on dry matter basis/day mixture of poultry litter, wheat bran and salt (PLW) at a proportion of 74, 25 and 1%, respectively and farmers' conventional feeding practice alone as a control. Each farmer allocated their cattle to both treatments randomly. Cattle fed the PLW supplement had higher average daily gain (487 g/day) than cattle not supplemented that lost weight (-119 g/day).

Key words: crop residues, grazing, protein, wheat bran


The major feed resources for livestock production in Tanqua Abergelle district of northern Ethiopia are crop residues and natural pastures (Gebremariam and Belay 2016). However, crop residues particularly stovers and cereal straws are characterized by low CP content, palatability and digestibility. Similarly, the nutritional qualities of natural pastures are greatly reduced during dry seasons. Both the formerly discussed feed resources could not able to support the maintenance and production nutrient requirement of cattle. So, supplementation practice is needed to fill the critically deficient nutrients and subsequently, to maintain or improve the animal performance. Concentrates are commonly used as supplement diets but, they are high in cost and also are not easily accessible at the small holder farmers (Tolera et al 2000). Taking in consideration the above limitation, research looking at locally available and cost affordable alternative supplemental feeds for cattle is very important. As reported by Tawadchai and Pakkapong (2010), poultry litter is usually a very inexpensive source of protein for cattle. Only the litter from healthy and properly managed poultry should be used as an animal feed. Also, foreign materials should be removed from the litter and sun-drying of the litter to contain less than 12 % moisture ensured destroying of most pathogen (Van Ryssen 2001). Poultry litter is deficient in energy and its available energy may be insufficient for the rumen microorganisms to utilize the nitrogen. Hence, it must be prepared as a supplement mixed with energy rich diet. In Ethiopia, particularly in Tigray region research information related on effect of supplementation of poultry litter based diet for cattle is not adequately available. Therefore, this study was conducted with objective to evaluate the effect of supplementation of poultry litter based diet on body weight gain of cattle.

Material and Methods

Description of study area

The study was conducted on-farm at Hadush-TekliT village in Tanqua Abergelle district of northern Ethiopia. The district is located at 13°14'06" N latitude and 38°58'50" E longitude. The climate is categorized as hot to warm sub-moist with an altitude ranging from 1300 to 1800 masl. The annual mean rainfall is between 400 to 600 mm while the mean temperature is between 28 to 40°C. Farming system of the area is mainly mixed crop livestock production system (TAOARD 2017).

Farmers' selection and supplemental diet preparation

Twenty four voluntary farmers who could provide individually two similar in weight intact male cattle with an age of 3-4 years were selected. The age of the cattle was determined using their dentition and information obtained from the owners. Training concerned on supplement provision, housing sanitation and health care of the experimental cattle was given for all participants. The required quantities of poultry litter (PL) were collected from deep floor system of Mekelle farm intensive poultry production in Mekelle city, northern Ethiopia. Next, it was sun dried till its moisture content reduced to the advisable levels. Wheat bran (WB) and salt were also purchased from the market in the same city. According their needed proportion in the supplement diet, the poultry litter, wheat bran and salt were mixed and thoroughly turned. Finally, the supplemental diet were weighed and packed based on the amount needed for daily offer per individual and then distributed to the beneficiary farmers.

Experimental design and treatments

The initial body weight of experimental cattle was 196+45.2 kg. The study was carried out using randomized complete block design with two treatments and 24 replications. Each farmer received both treatments. The treatments were supplementation of 1.8 kg on dry matter basis/day mixture of poultry litter, wheat bran and salt (PLW) at a proportion of 74, 25 and 1%, respectively and farmers' conventional feeding practice alone as a control. The farmers' conventional feeding practice included free grazing with limited amount provision of crop residues mainly sorghum stover and Tef straw.

Management of experimental animals

The experimental cattle were ear tagged for easily of identification. They were treated against internal and external parasite using albendazole and ivermectin, respectively. The cattle were handled in separate house equipped with feeding troughs during the supplement feeding. The feeding trial was undertaken for 90 days after 21 days of adaptation period. The supplemental diet was provided to individual cattle twice a day at equal portions at 8:00 am and 16:00 pm. The cattle had access to  clean and fresh water near their grazing site. Body weights were recorded fortnightly.

Chemical analysis

Dry matter (DM), ash and N content of samples of PL and WB offered and refused were analyzed using the procedures outlined by AOAC (2005). Neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent fibre (ADF) and acid detergent lignin (ADL) contents of those samples were determined according to Van Soest et al (1991).

Data analysis

The collected data were subjected to independent sample t-test using IBM SPSS version 20.0 (IBM Corp. Released 2011). The statistical model was;

Yij=µ + τi + βj + єij, where
Yij=response variable µ=overall mean
τi=effect of treatment i (i=1,2)
βj=effect of block j (j= 1,2,3,...., 24)
єij=random error

Result and discussion

Chemical composition of experimental feed ingredients

Crude protein content of PL in this study is lower than values reported by other studies (Zapata and Láres 2005; Abdul et al 2008; Tsadik et al 2008). In general, nutrient composition of PL is widely varies due to different factors including composition of diet of birds, type of bedding material, litter processing and management, number of birds and duration of birds on bedding material (Van Ryssen 2001).

Table 1. Chemical composition of experimental feed ingredients (g/kg DM except for DM which is on air-dry basis)
Feed ingredients DM CP OM NDF ADF ADL
Wheat bran 936 162 937 480 155 35.2
Poultry litter 908 178 831 559 329 72.3
DM= dry matter; OM= organic matter; CP= crude protein; NDF= neutral detergent fiber;
ADF= acid detergent fiber and ADL= acid detergent lignin
Body weight change

Cattle supplemented with mixture of WB and PL diet showed higher weight gains. On the other hands, weight loss was observed in non-supplemented cattle. The weight lost in non-supplemented cattle indicated that farmers conventional feeding practice alone does not support even their maintenance nutrient requirement. Similar to this study, weight lost for non-supplemented cattle compared to the ones supplemented with PL were reported in other studies (Abdul et al 2008; Kindeya et al 2018). The weight gains for the supplemented cattle in this study were comparable to value reported by Tawadchai and Pakkapong (2010) for cattle fed 50% PL in their diet.

Table 2. Body weight gain of cattle supplemented with mixture of poultry litter and wheat bran
Parameters PLW Control SEM p
IBW, kg 196 195 9.9 0.99
FBW, kg 239 185 7.1 0.0001
ADG, g/day 487 -119 93.1 0.0001
IBW= initial body weight; FBW= final body weight; ADG= average daily gain;
PLW= supplementation of 1.8 kg DM of mixture of poultry litter, wheat bran and salt at a proportion of 74, 25 and 1%, respectively; Control, conventional feeding practice


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


The authors are greatly thankful to Tigray agricultural research institution for funding the research work. The authors also forward their acknowledgement to the participant farmers for their unreserved help for management of their experimental cattle according to the assigned treatments.


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Received 24 January 2019; Accepted 22 March 2019; Published 1 April 2019

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