Can we use Baobab trees to feed chickens?

Posted on 2 August 2018 by Makhosi Mahlangu

Globally, there is an increasing demand for poultry products. This may be attributed to the alleged healthiness of chicken, higher profit margins over a short period, and high acceptability of poultry products in many culinary traditions. There has been high competition for the consumption of traditional protein sources between humans and the livestock industry in the last two decades, which has resulted in an inadequate supply of dietary proteins.

As such, soybean has been the primary dietary source of plant protein, although currently, its production has not been sufficient to meet the protein demands of the increasing human population and expanding livestock industry. Fishmeal and soybean now occupy central roles in poultry feeds. Nevertheless, their inadequate supply has led to a rise in the price of poultry feed. Ultimately this has affected the growth of the poultry industry, particularly in developing countries. Hence, to meet the protein demands, recent research trends have focused on finding alternatives to dietary protein in poultry diets. Baobab seed oilcake (BSOC) has proved to have such potential.

Boabab Tree in Africa-photo credit to Unique Facts

Nutritional composition of baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) seeds shows a high level of crude protein (CP) that is essential in poultry production. The seeds have a protein value that ranges from 20 to 36% CP and an energy level of 4.19 to 16.75 kJ/kg, which is comparable with sunflower meal (24.4–36.7 CP and 19.1–20.2 kJ/kg) and soybean hulls (10.5–19.2 CP and 17.5–18.7 kJ/kg). As for the amino acids (AA), two of the 17 observed AA in baobab seeds are categorized as essential, namely lysine (5.0 g/100 g) and methionine (1.0 g/100 g), and they are in moderately appreciable amounts. Even though studies on the use of BSOC on broiler production are few, there is a scarcity of studies on its effects on growth performance and efficiency of protein utilization in broilers.  Looking at the availability of essential AA in the baobab seeds, it could be hypothesized that the processed oilcake would provide some of these AA for broiler growth.