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Optimization of Jack bean (Canavalia ensiformis L.) processing to reduce hydrogen cyanide content and enhance broiler chicken performance: a potential alternative to soybeans in poultry feed

Ouldya Fasya Alifianty1, Muhammad Ridla2,3, Nahrowi2,3, Rima Shidqiyya Hidayati Martin2,3 and Sindu Akhadiarto4

1 Graduate School of Nutrition and Feed Science, Faculty of Animal Science, IPB University, Kampus Dramaga, Bogor 16680, Indonesia
2 Departmen of Nutrition and Feed Technology, Faculty of Animal Science, IPB University, Kampus Dramaga, Bogor 16680, Indonesia
3 Center for Tropical Animal Studies (CENTRAS, IPB University, Kampus IPB Baranangsiang, Jl.Raya Pajajaran, Bogor 16153,Indonesia
4 Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional (BRIN), Jl. M.H Thamrin No. 8 Jakarta Pusat, Jakarta 10340, Indonesia


Jack bean, a promising substitute for soybeans in poultry feed, is hindered by its hydrogen cyanide (HCN) content. This study aimed to optimize the processing of jack beans to reduce HCN levels and enhance the performance of broiler chickens by incorporating jack bean meals as a replacement for soybean meals in their diets. The experiment was designed using a completely randomized design (CRD) with three treatments: unprocessed jack beans (control), peeled jack beans, and jack beans soaked for 3 hours followed by peeling. In the broiler ration trial, three treatments were applied: Jb0 = Control feed, Jb5 = Feed containing 5% soaked and peeled jack bean meals, and Jb10 = Feed containing 10% soaked and peeled jack bean meals. The findings demonstrate that peeling, and soaking followed by peeling effectively reduce HCN levels in jack beans. Additionally, substituting processed jack bean meal in rations up to 10% did not negatively impact broiler performance and the weight of immune organs.

Keywords: hydrogen cyanide, peeled, replacement, soaked


The cost of feed accounts for 70% of the total maintenance cost for broiler chickens. In Indonesia, soybean is extensively used as a protein source in broiler chicken feed. However, meeting the demand for soybean meal is challenging as it requires importation. Therefore, there is a need for easily accessible, sustainable, and affordable alternative feed ingredients that can serve as plant-based protein sources. One such potential ingredient found is jack bean (Canavalia ensiformis L.) which is rich in protein and energy.

According to Sridhar and Seena (2006), the composition of jack bean seeds includes water content ranging from 3.8% to 13.5%, crude protein ranging from 22.8% to 35.3%, crude fiber ranging from 4.7% to 11.4%, crude fat ranging from 1.6% to 12.1%, ash ranging from 2.3% to 5.8%, total starch ranging from 24.7% to 36.9%, energy content ranging from 1470 to 1910 kJ/100 g, and vitamins B1 and B2. Furthermore, jack beans also contain amino acids found in soybean meal. However, there are nutritional constraints associated with using jack beans in poultry diets, primarily due to the presence of high levels of HCN. If consumed excessively, these compounds can be harmful to livestock health. Nevertheless, appropriate processing techniques can effectively reduce the HCN content (Yatno et al 2015).

To enhance the nutritional quality of jack beans and establish effective processing methods, this study aimed to assess the influence of processing techniques on the HCN content of jack beans. Furthermore, the study examined the effects of incorporating processed jack bean meals as a substitute for soybeans in broiler chicken diets, with a focus on evaluating performance outcomes. The ultimate objective is to replace imported soybeans with locally cultivated jack beans through further development and intensive cultivation efforts.

Materials and methods

Processing of Jack Beans

In this study, jack beans were subjected to three different processing treatments with three replications: unprocessed, peeled, and soaked at room temperature for 3 hours followed by peeling. Subsequently, all samples were dried in an oven and ground to obtain a jack bean meal. The quality of the jack beans was assessed, considering factors such as hydrogen cyanide (HCN) content, physical properties, and chemical values.

The concentration of HCN in the jack beans was determined using the Volhard argentometric method. Proximate analysis was conducted to analyze the nutrient composition of jack bean meals, which involved measuring the content of dry matter, ash, crude protein, crude fat, and crude fiber (AOAC 2005). Additionally, physical quality was evaluated using bulk density and tapped density measurements, following Amidon's method (2017).

Photo 1. Unprocessed jack bean. Peeled jack bean. Jack bean flour
Broiler chickens rearing

Processed jack beans with the lowest HCN content were utilized in feeding trials, by incorporating 0, 5 and 10% of jack bean meals in broiler rations. The feed formulation complied with the standard requirements for broiler chickens, and the specific details in Table 1.

Table 1. Feed composition and nutrient content of Broiler chicken ration

Ingredients (%)








Peeled Jack bean meal




Soybean meal








Rice bran




Crude Palm Oil












Nutrient content

Dry Matter (%)




Crude Protein (%)




Crude fat (%)




Crude Fiber (%)




Ash (%)




Metabolizable Energy (kcal/kg)




Calcium (%)




Phosphor available (%)




Dig. Methionine (%)




Dig. Lysine (%)




Noted: Jb0 = Control feed, Jb5 = Feed containing 5% soaked and peeled jack bean meals, and Jb10 = Feed containing 10% soaked and peeled jack bean meals

This study employed Cobb broiler chickens as the experimental subjects. A total of 180 broiler female chickens were divided into three treatment groups, with each group consisting of six replications, and ten chickens per replication. During the pre-starter phase, the chickens were provided with commercial feed. The experiment commenced on day 8 and continued until day 35, aiming to attain the desired performance. Throughout the experimental period, the chickens were fed in crumble form. Water was freely accessible to them at all times. Weekly measurements were conducted to track the body weight gain and feed consumption of the chickens.

After a maintenance period of 35 days, broiler chickens were assessed for performance which included measurements of feed consumption, body weight gain, feed conversion ratio, and mortality. In addition, the immune organs consisting of the bursa of Fabricius, thymus, and spleen are also evaluated.

Data Analysis

The study employed a Completely Randomized Design (CRD) as the experimental design. The obtained data were analyzed using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for variables that exhibited significant effects. If the differences among treatment means were statistically significant (p<0.05), the post hoc Duncan's multiple range test was conducted. The data processing was performed using IBM SPSS Statistics version 25 software.

Results and discussion

Hydrogen cyanide content

The peeling treatment, and soaking followed by the peeling treatment significantly reduced (p<0.05) the hydrogen cyanide (HCN) content in jack beans. As indicated in Table 2, the initial HCN content in fresh jack beans was measured at 51 ppm, while peeled jack beans showed a reduced content of 38 ppm. The lowest HCN content of 21 ppm was observed in the soaked and peeled jack beans. The decrease in HCN content in the peeled jack beans indicated that some of the HCN content was deposited in the skin of the jack beans. Furthermore, soaked jack beans could release HCN content during the soaking process, resulting in the loss or dissolution of HCN in the soaking water. This finding is consistent with the findings of Kusnandar et al (2020), who reported that anti-nutritional factors can be reduced through the release of components during water soaking, leading to the dissolution of HCN in the soaking water. These results indicate that soaking and peeling treatments could effectively reduce the HCN content in jack beans, thus improving their safety for animal feed. According to Junior et al (2019), HCN levels ranging from 50 ppm to 100 ppm can potentially cause poisoning, even leading to death, and continuous consumption can result in severe health problems.

Physical and chemical properties

Bulk density and tapped density are important measurements used to determine the weight-to-volume ratio of a material. These measurements are particularly useful in calculating the space required for a material with a specific weight, such as in filling mixers, elevators, and silos (D'Amours and Savoie 2004; Bodhmage 2006). In this study, processed jack bean meals exhibited higher (p<0.05) bulk density and tapped density values compared to unprocessed jack beans, as shown in Table 2. Based on these results, it can be inferred that peeled and soaked followed by peeled jack bean meals are more efficient in terms of their density compared to unprocessed jack bean meals. The increase of bulk density and tapped density in this study might be attributed to the peeled treatment having reduced the crude fiber content from 7.02 (%DM) in unprocessed became 0.59 (%DM) in peeled and soaked followed by peeled jack beans meal. Previous research by Ridla et al (2023) reported a positive correlation between bulk density and tapped density values with protein content, while a negative correlation was observed with crude fiber content.

Table 2. Composition of antinutrients and nutrients content of Jack bean


Unprocessed Jack
bean meal

Peeled Jack
bean meal

Soaked and peeled
Jack bean meal

HCN (ppm)

51 0.70c

38 0.21b

21 0.14a

Dry matter (%)

92.47 0.06a

93.24 0.03b

92.60 0.02a

Crude ash (% DM)

3.55 0.04b

3.20 0.02a

3.35 0.02a

Crude protein (% DM)

25.58 0.06a

27.00 0.16b

28.35 0.06c

Ether extract (% DM)

3.28 0.08c

2.93 0.09a

2.38 0.02b

Crude fiber (% DM)

7.02 0.16b

0.59 0.07a

0.59 0.08 a

Bulk density (kg/m3)

493.60 8.60a

530.60 14.73b

566.31 7.23c

Tapped density (kg/m3)

743.90 27.89a

758.60 26.00b

785.3 5.88c

Note: Different letters in the same row showed differences (p<0.05)

Proximate analysis has benefits as an assessment of feed quality, especially on the standard of feed substances that should be contained therein. Peeled and soaked followed by peeled had affected (p<0.05) nutrient content of jack bean meal (Table 2). Peeling treatment could reduce fat and fiber content significantly during processing. The decreases are thought to be caused by the presence of fat and fiber content in the skin, so the skin peeling treatment causes fat and fiber levels to decrease. On the other hand, as a result of reducing crude fat and crude fiber content, the crude protein percentage increased (p<0.05). Odedeji et al (2020) reported that sprouting treatment increased the crude protein content and reduced the anti-nutritional content in processed jack bean meals. On the other hand, Damayanti et al (2019) suggested that reducing crude fiber and increasing crude protein content could have a beneficial effect on nutrient utilization in the animal body.

Broiler chicken performance

The performance of the chickens observed during the study included feed consumption, body weight gain, feed conversion ratio, and mortality are presented in Table 3.

Table 3. Performance of Broiler chicken (8 to 35 days)





Feed consumption(g)

3330.81 60.66

3174.02 41.79

3297.00 53.83

Body weight gain (g)

1683.84 61.00

1598.25 36.25

1562.38 46.27

Feed conversion ratio

1.98 0.27

2.03 0.05

2.06 0.11

Mortality (%)




Noted: Jb0 = Control feed, Jb5 = Feed containing 5% soaked jack bean meals, and Jb10 = Feed containing 10% soaked jack bean meals

Feeding the broiler chickens with feed containing 0, 5, and 10% of soaked and peeled Jack bean meals did not affect body weight gain, feed consumption, and feed conversion ratio. Furthermore, a slight lower in the consumption and body weight gain in treatments Jb5 and Jb10 compared to the control (Jb0) was found. The energy content of rations Jb5 and Jb10 were relatively high at 3598 kcal/kg and 3521 kcal/kg, with protein contents of 22.35% and 21.49%, respectively, which could have satisfied the energy requirements of the chickens, resulting in reduced feed intake. This is in line with the statement by Silondae and Polakitan (2018) that factors affecting livestock production are feed consumption and the nutrient content in the feed. Consumption increases when the energy content of the feed is low, and vice versa.

Mortality represents the number of chicken deaths during the rearing period and is obtained by counting the number of dead chickens. Mortality is a factor that affects profitability. In this study, the number of chicken deaths during the research period was around 2. The cause of death was attributed to sudden death syndrome (SDS), which occurred in the third and fourth weeks of the study. No abnormalities were found in the chicken organs upon slaughter, indicating that the cause of death was not related to the consumed feed. Amrullah (2004) stated that SDS occurs due to metabolic disturbances caused by electrolyte imbalances in the left ventricular fibrillation. SDS is characterized by sudden death.

Broiler chicken immune system

The immune system is an important component of the body's defense mechanisms, which are responsible for natural protection. It includes various immune organs, including the bursa of Fabricius, the thymus, and the spleen. These organs undergo severe changes when the body is diseased because they actively fight foreign substances such as bacterial, viral, fungal, and anti-nutritional infections. The chicken immune system is presented in Table 4.

Table 4. The immune system organs of broiler chicken at 35 days (% body weight)

Parameter (%)
















Noted: Jb0 = Control feed, Jb5 = Feed containing 5% soaked jack bean meals, and Jb10 = Feed containing 10% soaked jack bean meals

Normal immune organs can be identified by their size, which is within the normal range. The experimental results showed that the treatment did not affect the proportion of organ immunity. The proportion by weight of the average bursa ranges from 0.05% to 0.06%. According to Akbar et al (2022), the normal range for the proportion by weight of bursa is 0.05% to 0.09%. The percentage of thymus weight obtained in this study ranged from 0.36% to 0.38% which is still within the normal range. These values are consistent with research by Salsabila et al (2022), which states that the normal proportion of the thymus organ ranges from 0.23% to 0.38%. The size of the spleen can vary depending on the amount of blood in the body. The mean spleen weight in this study was 0.9% to 0.11%, which is equivalent to the normal spleen weight of 0.07% to 0.26% found in the study by Hakim et al (2021). Excessive enlargement of the spleen may indicate increased antigen destruction. It can be interpreted that the chickens were in good health, not exposed to pathogenic bacteria, and feed containing Jack bean meal was not toxic to broiler chickens.

Inconsistent results regarding the inclusion of Jack bean meal in broiler chicken rations have been reported by researchers. For instance, Mahardhika et al (2020) found that the inclusion of 7% autoclaved jack bean meal in broiler chicken rations resulted in reduced body weight gain during the starter period, while Mahardhika et al (2021) observed increased weights of internal organs and the pancreas. On the other hand, Sudarman et al (2018) reported that substituting soybean meal with jack bean meal up to 50% in the starter phase, finisher phase, or both, had no adverse effects on broiler performance, carcass yield, commercial cut, visceral organ, or immune organs of 35-day-old broiler chickens. Similarly, Akande (2016) stated that jack bean meal could be incorporated into both starter and finisher broiler chicken diets at levels up to 20% of the total ration without negatively impacting broiler performance.


Ethical Approval

The research protocol involving animal subjects in this study adhered to ethical standards and obtained approval from the ethical committee, as per the Animal Ethics Committee of IPB University. Ethical clearance was obtained before the commencement of the study, and a certificate with No.038/KEH/SKE/III/2023 was issued.


This research has been funded by the Riset dan Inovasi Untuk Indonesia Maju (RIIM) Batch 3 Project, IPB-BRIN-LPDP 2023, with contract numbers 13955/IT3/PT.01.03/P/B/2023 and 4/IV/KS/05/2023, on May 8, 2023


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