Amla Reduces Heat Stress in Broiler Chickens

Amla Reduces Heat Stress in Broiler Chickens

With global warming pushing temperatures to unprecedented highs in South Asia, Bangladesh is no exception. This year, temperatures in the country have soared to nearly 45 degrees Celsius, posing a significant threat to the poultry industry. Broiler chickens, known for their rapid growth rates, high body weight, and efficient feed conversion rates, generate considerable body heat, making them highly sensitive to environmental heat.

Heat stress in broiler chickens leads to reduced feed intake, lower feed conversion rates, and stunted growth. Prolonged heat stress decreases protein content in their meat, reduces the size of breast muscles, and increases fat content, sometimes resulting in death.

Recently, a team of researchers from Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) found success in combating heat stress by supplementing broiler feed with powdered amla (Indian gooseberry). The research, led by Professor Dr. Chayan Goswami of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at BAU, was published in the European Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences. The study was funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The research team included Dr. Bapon De from the Department of Poultry Science, Associate Professor Dr. Rakhi Chakraborty from the Interdisciplinary Institute for Food Security (IIFC), and Lecturer Md. Kamrul Hasan Kajol from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, along with several postgraduate students.

Professor Dr. Chayan Goswami explained that amla contains antibiotic, antistress, and antioxidant properties, along with high levels of vitamin C. Heat stress reduces broiler feed intake; with each degree increase in environmental temperature between 32 to 38 degrees Celsius, feed intake drops by 4.6%. Reduced feed intake increases stress hormone secretion, raising corticosteroid levels in the body, which breaks down proteins and hinders digestion, leading to decreased growth and weight loss.

Amla acts as an appetite stimulant, increasing feed intake and reducing stress-induced damage. It reduces free radicals and enhances feed conversion rates, maintaining a balance between feed intake and weight gain in broilers. Therefore, using amla as a supplement can mitigate the adverse effects of heat stress in broiler chickens.

Dr. Goswami highlighted that amla, scientifically known as Emblica officinalis, is rich in vitamin C. It also contains 0.5% protein, 0.1% fat, 3.4% fiber, and 14.1% carbohydrates, along with high concentrations of natural antioxidants like tannin, kaempferol, ellagic acid, and gallic acid. Daily supplementation of broiler feed with amla powder can increase body weight, feed intake, and reduce mortality rates. Additionally, it lowers bad fats like cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL while increasing good fats like HDL in broiler chickens.

Dr. Bapon De added that the current poultry industry is suffering from heat stress, which reduces production and the quality of meat. While expensive technologies like genetic modification, temperature control, intensive ventilation, and humidity control are used to combat heat stress, these are not feasible for small and medium farms in Bangladesh. Chemical antioxidants are also widely used but pose a cancer risk to humans. Therefore, natural antioxidants like amla offer a reliable solution for managing heat stress.

Dr. De noted that amla also has antibiotic properties, increasing beneficial lactobacilli bacteria in the stomach and small intestine, which produce lactic acid and destroy harmful bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. Hence, natural amla can serve as an alternative to antibiotics.

AK Kabir

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