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Potential Natural Egg Colourant in Laying Chickens

A six-week study involving two hundred and fifty (250) Harco Black  layer birds at point of lay was carried out to investigate the effects of potential natural colorant on performance and egg quality traits. The birds were assigned to five (5) dietary treatments, each containing supplements either of control, Baobab Leaf (BL), Waterleaf (WL), Red Pepper (RP), Canthaxanthin (CTX) at 40 g/kg feed and 50mg/kg feed of natural and commercial colorants, respectively. Performance records shows no significant (p>0.05) difference in feed intake across supplements of Red pepper, Water leaf, Canthaxanthin and control diet, however Baobab leaf treatment had a significantly lower (p < 0.05) intake value (94.07 g) when compared with other treatments. Body weight gain and Hen Day Production was not significant influenced (p>0.05) by the dietary treatments, though Baobab leaf supplement had lowest mean HDP of 48.80%, Red pepper and Water leaf supplement averaging 52.79%. There was no significant effect (p > 0.05) of colorants on egg external traits, compared with the control; Canthaxanthin treatment had higher mean egg weight (51.79g), egg length (4.55g), egg breadth (3.29 g); Red pepper treatment had highest mean shell thickness (0.29g), however these differences were not significant (p>0.05). Yolk height, Albumen height, Yolk index, and Haugh unit were not significantly affected (p > 0.05) across treatments. Yolk width was lowest (p < 0.05) in Baobab leaf treatment (2.54cm); Red pepper, Water leaf and Canthaxanthin (2.89, 2.62 and 2.89 cm respectively) were not significantly (p > 0.05) different from the control (2.73cm). Yolk colour score was significantly highest (p < 0.05) in Red pepper treatment (7.50); Water leaf, Baobab leaf and Canthaxanthin ranged between 2.25- 3.31 on the DSM yolk colour fan, Control treatment had the lowest yolk colour score (p < 0.05) of 1.31. The study showed Red pepper as a worthy alternative to commercial yolk colorant. Water leaf and baobab are not good substitutes for canthaxanthin as a yolk colourant.

*Bolu, S. A., Aderibigbe, S. A. and Elegbeleye, E. A. Dept. of Animal Production, University of Ilorin, Ilorin. Nigeria

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