Effects of Alfalfa Meal on Growth Performance and Gastrointestinal Tract Development of Growing Ducks

  • Jiang, J.F. (Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences) ;
  • Song, X.M. (Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences) ;
  • Huang, X. (Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences) ;
  • Zhou, W.D. (Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences) ;
  • Wu, J.L. (Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences) ;
  • Zhu, Z.G. (National Shaoxing Duck Breeding Farm) ;
  • Zheng, H.C. (Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences) ;
  • Jiang, Y.Q. (Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences)
  • Received : 2012.04.11
  • Accepted : 2012.05.30
  • Published : 2012.10.01


A study was conducted to evaluate effects of alfalfa meal on growth performance and gastrointestinal tract development of growing layer ducks to provide evidence for application of alfalfa meal in the duck industry. Two hundred and fifty-six healthy Shaoxing 7-wk old growing layer ducks were selected and randomly allocated to 1 of 4 dietary treatments based on corn and soybean meal and containing 0, 3, 6, and 9% of alfalfa meal for 8 wks. Each treatment consisted of 4 replicates of 16 ducks each. Briefly, birds were raised in separate compartments, and each compartment consisted of three parts: indoor floor house, adjacent open area and a connecting water area. The results showed: i) Growing ducks fed alfalfa meal diet were not significantly different in average daily gain, feed intake and gain-to-feed ratio from those fed no alfalfa diet (p>0.05). ii) Alfalfa meal increased the ratio crop, gizzard to live weight, caecum to live weight, the caecum index of growing ducks (p<0.05). iii) Villus height in duodenum and jejunum of growing ducks increased significantly with the increase of alfalfa meal levels (p<0.05). Crypt depth in duodenum and jejunum of growing ducks decreased significantly with the increase of alfalfa meal levels (p<0.05). This experiment showed that feeding of alfalfa meal to growing layer ducks could improve gastrointestinal tract growth and small intestinal morphology without effect on performance. This experiment provides evidence that alfalfa meal is a very valuable feedstuff for growing layer ducks.


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