This study was to determine the effect of probiotics (L. acidophilus) on growth performance, carcass yield, and serum cholesterol level of broiler birds. A total of 128 day – old Anak broiler chicks were used for the study. The birds were randomly divided into four treatment groups T1, T2, T3, and T 4 which contained 0.0g/ml, 0.4g/ml, 0.6g/ml and 0.8g/ml L. acidophilus respectively. Thirty-two birds were assigned to each treatment group which was replicated four times with 8 birds per replicate in a completely randomized design (CRD). The experiment lasted for eight weeks. The results showed that probiotics significantly (P < 0.05) affected the average final body weight in the starter phase for T2 T3 and T4 when compared with T1 (control). Probiotics also showed significant effect (P< 0.05) on the average final body weight in the finishing phase for T2, T3, and T4 when compared with T1. However, there was no significant (P>0.05) difference in the carcass analysis of dressing weight and gizzard weight. There was no significant (P>0.05) difference in the total cholesterol level of the various treatments. The result also revealed that there was significant (P < 0.05) difference in total cost of feed consumed. It was concluded from the study that addition of 0.6g/ml probiotics (L. acidophilus) in the diet of broiler birds enhanced their performance positively.

1.1       Background Information
Production and supply of animal protein are grossly inadequate in developing countries
including Nigeria (Atsu, 2002). This has drastically affected the daily animal protein intake of Nigerians that is reported to be as low as 6.5g per head per day compared to the World Health Organization recommendation of 35g per head per day (FAO, 2005).
One of the measures to solving this problem is to improve the production of livestock species that have the potential for rapid growth and short generation interval. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO, 2005) reported that poultry meat produced all over the world was 21 million tonnes higher than beef and veal production.
According to Babatunde (1980), poultry holds a unique position in bridging the gap of animal protein supply for the ever increasing human population in Nigeria and other developing countries. This can only be achieved if proper measures are taken to ensure increased productivity at a relatively lower cost of production. Poultry has the advantage of ranking high in its ability to convert feed into meat and egg efficiently (Kekeocha, 1994).

The cost of feed in any animal production enterprise could be over 70% of the entire cost of production. This high cost of feed is because most of the diets are based on cereal grains and oil seed meal, which compete both directly and indirectly with the industry and human (Ezekwe et al., 2011). Because of this, researchers are keen on finding ways to utilize cheaper and readily available feedstuff such as palm kernel cake (PKC) in poultry production (Obioha, 1992). Okuedo et al., (2005) reported that PKC could be used to achieve better performance in poultry. Other measures that had been taken include incorporation of growth promoters in poultry feed (Ezema, 2007). These growth promoters are mainly antibiotics, organic acids, prebiotics, probiotics and amino acids. The antibiotics are incorporated in poultry feed at sub-therapeutic levels to increase feed efficiency and growth in food animals (Elin, 2001). There is a great concern presently about the use of antibiotics growth promoters in animal feed industry. This is because long term use of antimicrobial growth promoters may select for bacterial resistance to antibiotics used in both human medicine and poultry production (Edens, 2003). Consequent upon this, there has been world-wide ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters. Antibiotics resistant bacteria arising from agricultural practices enter human environments and move about with people and goods thus creating trans-border resistance. Following the ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters and the urgent need to increase livestock productivity, there is then the need to find alternative ways of achieving this. This is where probiotics find its use, both for prophylactic and therapeutic uses.

Scientists have over the years defined probiotics in several ways. Fuller (1999) defined probiotics as animal feed supplements which had a beneficial effect on the host animal by affecting its gut flora. Edens (2003) also defined probiotics as feed additives that can be used to replace antibiotics in poultry nutrition. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO, 2005), probiotics is a live microorganism administered in adequate amounts which confers a beneficial health effect on the host. Griggs and Jacob (2005) gave a definition of probiotics as viable microbial food supplements which beneficially influence the health of the host. A more encompassing definition was given by Ezema (2007) as a live culture of microbes often lactic acid bacteria but also other species such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae which are fed to animals to improve their health and growth by altering intestinal microbial balance. From the above definitions, one would define probiotic as a micro-organism given to animals as feed supplement which enhances the functioning of the gut microflora.

In broiler nutrition, probiotics species belonging to lactobacillus, streptococcus, prifidobacterium, enterococus, aspergillus, candida and saccharomyces have a beneficial effect on broiler performance (Owings et al., 1990); modulation of intestinal microflora and pathogen inhibition (Jin et al., 1998). These organisms also influence changes in intestine histology (Kabir et al., 2005), improve sensory characterization of dressed broiler meat (Pelicano et al., 2003) and promote microbiological meat quality of broiler.

1.2.     Problem Statement
The problems associated with poultry production in Nigeria are low productivity, challenge of disease and pests, poor performing breeds, poor management and lack of adequate capital (Akpantuku et al., 1998).
To increase productivity, producers have resorted to the use of probiotics. There are indications that probiotics addition to animal feed can improve the nutritive quality of feed and the performance of animal (Glade and Sist, 1998; Anjum et al., 2005).
This research was therefore designed to assess the effect of probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus) on the growth performance and carcass yield of finishing broilers.

1.3.     Objectives of the Study
The study was carried out to determine the:

i.                    Effect of probiotics on the growth performance of broilers,
ii.                 Effect of probiotics on carcass yield and organs weight of broiler birds,
iii.               Cost implication of using probiotics in broiler production and
iv.               Effect of probiotics on serum cholesterol level of broiler birds.

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Item Type: Postgraduate Material  |  Attribute: 68 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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