Growth Performance and Biochemical Evaluation of Rats Fed on Heat-Treated Vigna Unguiculata Pod
The numerous vital functions of protein in human body underscore its importance in human nutrition. All dietary animal proteins are considered to be of the best qualities due to the presence of all of the essential amino acids. A pragmatic solution to the shortage of protein of animal origin lies in scaling up livestock production to make meat available and affordable. However, this approach is seriously being hampered by the increasing cost of feed ingredients like corn. This research was carried out to assess the viability of replacing corn starch in animal feed by raw or boiled Vigna unguiculata pod. Forty-two weanling albino rats, with mean weight of 31.11g ± 3.32g were divided into seven groups of equal average weight. The groups were then randomly signed to seven experimental diets. Diet C (Control) contained 100% inclusion level of corn starch. Diets R, B60 and B90 contained 70% inclusion levels of raw, 60-minute boiled and 90-minute boiled Vigna unguiculata pod respectively, while diets CR, CB60 and CB90 contained 50% inclusion levels of raw, 60-minute boiled and 90-minute boiled Vigna unguiculata pod. The rats were fed on their respective experimental diets and water ad libitum for six weeks. The nutritional and antinutritional components of raw and boiled Vigna unguiculata pod were determined. Feed intake, growth response, carbohydrate metabolism and haematological parameters were evaluated. The results revealed that boiling caused significant reduction (p < 0.05) in the nutrient and antinutrient components of Vigna unguiculata pod. Diets containing 50% inclusion levels of 90-minute boiled Vigna unguiculata pod did not significantly (p>0.05) affect the average weekly feed intake, weight gain, feed conversion ratio and carbohydrate digestibility. Haematological parameters were also not significantly affected (p>0.05) by 50% inclusion level of 90-minute boiled Vigna unguiculata pod. Present findings showed that 50% replacement of corn starch by 90-minute boiled Vigna unguiculata husk in animal feed supports growth and may cause no blood disorders in rats. Therefore, it is our conclusion that 90-minute boiled Vigna unguiculata pod has the potential of partly (up to 50%) replacing cornstarch as a source of carbohydrate in animal feed.