Advances in Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Research Article
Adv. Anim. Vet. Sci. 9(2): 230-237
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Teye Moses1*, Barku VYA2, Kyereme C1, Odoi FNA1

1Department of Animal Science, School of Agriculture, University of Cape Coast, Ghana; 2Department of Chemistry, School of Physical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

Abstract | The water hyacinth plant is an invasive aquatic weed which colonizes vast areas of water bodies; it minimizes fishing grounds and blocks water ways. This study was conducted to screen water hyacinth plants spreading on the Volta Lake in Ghana, and assess its potential as a feed ingredient in rabbit rations. Fresh plants were harvested prior to flowering and sectioned into leaves, leaf sheaths and roots, after which it was dried till constant weights were attained. The dried products were milled and stored in air-tight containers, and portions used for proximate, heavy metal and fatty acid profile analyses. The most abundant fatty acids in the plant were palmitic, Linoleic and Linolenic acids. Levels of heavy metals such as Copper, Zinc, Lead and Iron in various parts of the plant were lower than the maximum permissible levels for use by livestock and humans. The leaves and leaf sheaths had crude protein contents of 20 % and 10 % respectively, and average fibre content of about 20%. The plant however, had low levels of fat that could possibly reduce palatability and thus hinder voluntary intake by some livestock species. Consequently, the experimental diets had higher crude protein, crude fibre and lower fat contents as water hyacinth inclusion increased. There was no significant effect on growth rate as water hyacinth plant meal replaced wheat bran up to 10% inclusion, but growth rate reduced as WHM inclusions increased to 15% in rabbit rations; cost of feed reduced by up to GH₵ 9.00 ($1.60 USD) with replacement. Further studies should consider the carcass and meat qualities of rabbits fed water hyacinth meal diets.

Keywords | Aquatic weeds, Invasive plant species, Heavy metals, Water hyacinth, Fatty acid profile