Effect of Moringa oleifera leaf powder supplementation on growth performance and intestinal morphology in broiler chickens
Emergence of antibiotic resistant pathogens due to subtherapeutic use of antibiotic as growth promoters (AGPs) poses a serious threat for human health. European Union (EU) already has banned the use of antibiotics as feed additives in poultry (EC Regulation No. 1831/2003) as they pose a threat to human health by development of resistant pathogens (Donoghue, 2003). This has led the scientists to look for feed alternatives, which can serve more than one purpose. One such resource is a group of feed additives termed as phytogenic products or phytobiotics, which include whole plants or their parts (Wenk, 2003). One such plant, Moringa oleifera, belongs to the family of Moringaceae and is considered indigenous in northern India and Pakistan (Zvinorova et al., 2015). The dried, ground leaves of M. oleifera contain 25.1% crude proteins, 5.4% lipids, 11.5% ash, 21.9% NDF (neutral detergent fibre) and 11.4% ADF (acidic detergent fibre), 44.4% carbohydrates, 3.0 mg zinc, 1.0 mg copper, 6.0 mg manganese, 300 mg calcium and 103.1 mg of iron per 100 g, 20.7 mg tannins/g, 17 mg nitrate/g, 10.5 mg oxalate/g, 161 μg β‐carotene/g and 47 μg lutein/g (Nkukwana, 2012; Teixeira et al., 2014). Vitamins A, C and E as well as their provitamins present in M. oleifera leaves are known to sequester free radicals and may have immunoprotective effects (DanMalam et al., 2001). Additionally, the leaves are reported to contain high amounts of total phenols and are a good source of potassium and magnesium (Coppin, 2008). The aqueous extract and Moringa oleifera leaf powder (MOLP) has antiulcerous, antihyperlipidaemic, antinflammatory, antioxidant and anticancereous properties (Coppin, 2008). Antifungal and broad‐spectrum antibacterial activities of Moringa oleifera fruit extracts have also been reported (Bukar et al., 2010; Lurling and Beekman, 2010). Toxicity studies have shown that M. oleifera leaf extract has no reported significant adverse effects in humans, rats, rabbits or poultry (Ashong and Brown, 2011; Stohs and Hartman, 2015). Rich nutrient profile of M. oleifera suggests potential growth promoter and immunomodulatory effects. Partially these effects have been measured in poultry with variable results, but the information on modulation of gut‐associated immune components is lacking. It is hypothesized that M. oleifera promotes growth performance by influencing gut architectural integrity and gut‐associated immune components. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the effects of dietary supplementation of ascending levels of MOLP on growth performance, intestinal microarchitecture and gut‐associated immune components in broilers.