Earthworms (Eudrilus Eugeniae) as a potential source of proteins in poultry feeds
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The economic viability of Uganda’s poultry industry is undermined by the high cost of silver cyprinid, the commonly used protein ingredient in the feed. There is therefore need to explore alternative protein sources like the earthworms (EM). ). This study is aimed at determining the nutritional composition of the earthworm, Eudrilus Eugeniae and the effect of its use as a protein source on the growth performance, carcass characteristics and meat quality of broilers. The nutritional composition of the earthworms was determined by proximate analysis and thereafter five different feed formulations were made using different inclusion levels of earthworms. These were T1 (0%EM), T2 (1%EM), T3 (3%EM), T4 (5%EM) and T5 (7%EM).A total 150 one day birds were randomly allocated to the five feed formulation treatments. Each treatment was replicated three times with 10 birds per replicate. The Body weight Gain (BWG), Average Daily Weight Gain (ADWG), Average Daily Feed Consumption (ADFC) and feed Consumption Ratio of the different treatments were determined. The broilers were slaughtered at six weeks to determine the carcass characteristics weight of organs and the sensory scores of the breast meat. The study showed that birds in T3 had the highest BWG (1.216kgs), followed by birds in T4 (1.164kgs). The highest food consumption was in T1 and T2 with the least food consumption in T5 for all the weeks. There was a significant difference in the food consumption for week 4 and week 6 at (p>0.05). There wasn’t any significant difference in the weights of the various body organs except the liver. The highest weight of the liver was in T1 (22.67g) with the least weight in T4 (16.89g). The sensory attributes of the broiler meat evaluated were chicken aroma, chewiness, juiciness, taste, tenderness and residue. The findings show that chicken taste and juiciness improved with increasing inclusion of earthworm meal (p>0.05). However, the amount of residues increased with increasing earthworm inclusion (p>0.05). There was no significant difference in the dietary treatments for chicken aroma, tenderness and chewiness. In brief, increasing inclusion of Eudrilus Eugeniae positively influenced the sensory scores, with T5 showing the best influence when compared with the other treatments.