Use of diets with Moringa oleifera (stems + leaves) meals in laying hens

Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 50(3): 445-454, 2016, ISSN: 2079-3480




Use of diets with Moringa oleifera (stems + leaves) meals in laying hens


Utilización de dietas con harina de Moringa oleifera (tallos + hojas) en gallinas ponedoras



M. Valdivié, O. Mesa, Bárbara Rodríguez

Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba.




An amount of 36 L-33 laying hens, with 1618 g of liveweight and more than 80 % of laying, were used in order to evaluate productive performance of diets with 0, 10 and 20 % of Moringa oleifera meal, from 34 to 50 weeks of age. Birds were kept in individual cages, at a rate of 12 hens/treatment, according to a completely randomized design, with three treatments and 12 repetitions. Performance of laying hens had no differences among treatments with 0 and 10 % of moringa for variability (100 %), liveweight (1756 to 1765 g/bird), food intake (110 g/bird) and egg production (76 to 81 %). However, with 20 % of moringa on the diet, there was a reduction of laying in 14 % regarding control treatment. Moringa favored pigmentation of egg yolks. With 10 % of moringa, cost of needed food to produce a thousand eggs was lower than control. From a nutritional point of view, it was evident the possibility of using up to 10 % of Moringa oleifera (stems + leaves) meal in diets for laying hens between 34 and 50 weeks of age.

Key words: forage, moringa, laying hens.


Se utilizaron 36 gallinas ponedoras L-33, de 1618 g de peso vivo y más de 80 % de puesta, para evaluar el comportamiento productivo con la utilización  de dietas con 0, 10 y 20 % de harina de Moringa oleifera, desde la 34 hasta las 50 semanas de edad. Las aves se alojaron en jaulas individuales, a razón de 12 gallinas/tratamiento, según diseño completamente aleatorizado con tres tratamientos y 12 repeticiones. El comportamiento de las gallinas ponedoras no difirió entre los tratamientos con 0 y 10 % de moringa para viabilidad (100 %), peso vivo (1756 a 1765 g/ave), consumo de alimento (110 g/ave) y puesta de huevos (76 a 81 %). Sin embargo, con 20 % de moringa en la dieta, se redujo la puesta en 14 % con respecto al tratamiento control. La moringa favoreció la pigmentación de la yema de huevo. Con 10 % de moringa, el costo del alimento necesario para producir un millar de huevos fue menor al del control. Nutricionalmente se evidenció la posibilidad de utilizar hasta 10 % de harina de Moringa oleifera (hojas + tallos) en dietas para gallinas ponedoras entre la 34 y 50 semana de edad.

Palabras clave: forraje-moringa-gallinas ponedoras.




Price of maize and soy meal for laying hen feeding has increased significantly in the period 2008-2013 (Trade and Market Division 2013). It has reached almost unaffordable prices in the ports of the United States in early 2016: 290 USD / t of maize and 371 USD/t dollars of soybean meal, according to the Central Bank of Cuba (2016), regardless maritime fees, insurance and taxes that may increase those prices between 80 and 100 USD/ t for Cuban importers.

Moringa oleifera (leaves + stems) forage comes from a plant that yields large quantities of forage with more than 17% of crude protein and low content of anti-nutritional substances (Makkar and Becker 1997). Therefore, it has been successfully used in diets for laying hens, at levels from 5 to 10% (Kakengi et al. 2007, Olugbemi et al. 2010, Abou et al. 2011),  as a partial substitute for maize and soybean meal, with positive economic results.

This study was conducted in order to characterize the productive performance of Cuban laying hens (L-33), between 34 and 50 weeks of age, using diets with 0, 10 and 20 % of Moringa oleifera (leaves+stems) as partial substitute of maize and soybean cake, imported in Cuba.



An amount of 36 L-33 laying hens, with 1,618 g of liveweight, between 34 and 50 weeks of age, and more than 80% of laying, in order to evaluate their productive performance, using diets with 0, 10 and 20 % of Moringa oleifera.

Birds were kept in individual cages, at a rate of 12 hens per treatment, according to a completely random design with three treatments (diets with 0, 10 and 20 % of Moringa oleifera ) and 12 repetitions (a hen per cage). The statistical analysis was carried out with INFOSTAT statistical program (Di Rienzo et al. 2001). Differences among means were determined  according to  Duncan (1955).

Table 1 shows the composition and contribution of diets. Hens received 110 g of feedstuff/hen/day in individual feed troughs.

A hen was located per cage (40 cm in the front and 41 cm in the back), with a linear feeding trough of 40 cm in the front and two nipple water troughs per cage. They were exposed to 16 h of light and eight hours of darkness. These birds received no veterinary treatment or medicines during the 119 days of experimentation

The indicators controlled were daily mortality, daily intake/hen, initial liveweight, liveweight at 38 and 50 weeks of age, daily production of eggs and egg weight. Yolk pigmentation was evaluated every Wednesday according to Roche scale. Conversion (g of feed/egg) and metabolizable energy intake (ME) MJ/bird/d were also controlled, as well as crude protein (CP) g/bird/d, crude fiber g/bird/d and ether extract intake g/bird/d.

Weight of consumed feed, of eggs and individual weight of hens was measured with a digital scale FWE, with a range between 0 and 25 kg and 0.001 g of precision.

At the end of the experiment, at 50 weeks of age, all hens were weighed and eight birds/treatment were slaughtered. Their jugular was cut and they were bled to extract and weight the abdominal fat, liver, ovaries and oviduct. During the last week of research, egg samples were taken (10 per treatment) in order to determine their relative content of white, yolk and shell + membranes.

This study used Supergenius variety of moringa. It was cropped at ICA and, at 62 days after cutting, it was dried at the air and formulated considering their contribution of nutrients and ME: 89 % of dry matter, 17 % of crude protein, 13 % of crude fiber, 3.42 % of calcium, 0.1 % of available phosphorus, 0.52 % of methionine + cysteine, 0.78 % of lysine, 0.69 % of threonine, 0.25 % of tryptophan and 7.945 MJ of ME/kg.

Chemical composition of moringa was determined according to AOAC (2012), for DM, CP, CF, Ca and total phosphorus. Amino acid and ME contributions were taken from reports from Valdivié and Cabezas (2015). Available phosphorus was estimated considering that adult birds use 50 % of total phosphorus.

Prices of raw matters for feedstuffs, in American dollars, were: moringa meal (150 dollars/t), maize (354 dollars/t) soy bean meal (521.34 dollars/t), raw vegetal oil (1,663.81 dollars/t), dicalcium phosphate (501.98 dollars/t), calcium carbonate (94.68 dollars/t), salt (118.14 dollars/t), DL methionine (6063.96 dollars/t), pre-mixture of vitamins and minerals (617.52 dollars/t).



Viability was 100% in all treatments, demonstrating that the inclusion of 0, 10 and 20 % of Moringa oleifera meal on diets for laying hens caused no mortality, which is supported by studies of Valdivié and Cabezas (2015), who also included up to 40 % of Moringa oleifera meal on feedstuff for laying hens during 19 weeks of laying peak.

In this paper, crude protein and feed intake did not differ among compared treatments, because 110 g of feed/bird/d were offered and birds consumed it completely without leaving leftovers, and for being isoprotein diets. However, Table 2 shows that as the level of moringa within the diet increased, intake of ME/bird/d decrease. This was attributed to the relatively low content of ME within moringa forage (7.11 to 7.95 MJ of ME/kg), according to reports Valdivié and Cabezas (2015). It was also attributed to not formulating isoenergetic diets for reducing their cost, due to the use of vegetable oil, which has a price of 941.50 USD/t (Central Bank of Cuba 2016) in the ports of the United States of America.

By increasing the level of moringa on the diet, its crude fiber content increased (Table 1). Therefore, crude fiber intake also increased (Table 2). However, by increasing the percent of moringa meal on the diet (Table 1), ether extract content (EE) was reduced. Because of this, EE intake decreased (Table 2).

This increase of crude fiber content and decreased of EE content explains the decrease of ME content of diets as the level of Moringa oleifera increases.

Liveweight of laying hens at 38 and 50 weeks old had no differences among treatments (0, 10 and 20 % of moringa in diet) (Table 3). This shows that these levels of moringa not affect live weight of these birds between 34 and 50 weeks old. With higher levels of moringa in diets (40%), Valdivié and Cabezas (2015) found that laying hens gained no live weight during the laying peak and even lost weight. This was associated to low ME intake.

Egg production had no differences between control treatment and 10% of moringa (Table 3), because birds could meet their needs of crude protein, ME and other nutrients (Tables 1 and 2), according to the requirements established by Scott et al. (1982), NRC (1994), Rostagno et al. (2005), Santiago et al. (2011) for hens laying white eggs.

The use of diets with 10% of Moringa oleifera for laying hens, without damaging egg production, had already been indicated by Kakengi et al. (2007), Olugbemi et al. (2010), Abou et al. (2011), among other authors.

Table 3 shows that 20% of moringa in diet for laying hens between 34 and 50 weeks of age, reduced egg production, compared to control. This may be caused by the lowest ME intake performed by poultry from the treatment with 20% of moringa in this experiment (Table 2).

Kakengi et al. (2007) and Abou et al. (2011) agree that, regarding control diet without moringa, egg production is reduced with the inclusion of 15 or 20 % of moringa, while Valdivié and Cabezas (2015), with 20 % of moringa in young chickens from 20 to 25 weeks old, stated that laying was not affected compared to control.

 In this study, diets were developed in the form of meal, as well as those of Kakengi et al. (2007) and Abou et al. (2011), while diets with 20 %, prepared by Valdivié and Cabezas (2015) were pelleted and offered ad libitum, aspect that should be researched in future studies because pelleting removes dustability of diets, increases their specific weight and improves their nutritional value (Leeson & Summers 2008).

In studies of Valdivié and Cabezas (2015), young hens receiving pelletized feed ad libitum, also had higher feed intake than those of control treatment, at 24 and 25 weeks old. This may explain, to some extent, that there were no differences for the production of eggs in these young birds with lower production capacity eggs found that of this study, based on age and reproductive physiology (Leeson and Summers 2008).

It is necessary to found out why sometimes diets with 15 or 20 % of Moringa oleifera forage meal enable a normal laying, and sometimes, egg production is reduced, when they are compared to a control diet without moringa, although it could be related and depend on multiple cause of variation in the contribution of nutrients, secondary metabolites, fiber components and ME in Moringa oleifera meals, according to reports of Joshi and Mehta (2010), Ogbe and Affiku (2011), Padilla et al. (2014), Förster et al. (2015), Leone et al. (2015), Savón et al. (2015), Valdivié and Cabezas (2015).

These authors attributed the variations in the contribution of nutrients, fiber, secondary metabolites and ME to genetic variations of plants, soil fertility, stress presence or absence in plants, state of growth-development-maturity, different cropping techniques, agro-climatic differences among countries or regions, type and intensity of solar radiation, pests and diseases, forage leaf/stem relation, drying methods and conditions, type of mills for forages, damages during storage, wrong sampling method and effects of chemical analysts and labs, among other aspects.

Table 3 shows the efficiency of feed use, expressed in grams of feed/produced egg. It indicates that there is no difference between control diet and that containing 10 % of moringa. This is logical because there were no differences for feed intake or laying among treatments with 0 and 10 % of moringa. However, there were differences between 0 and 20 % de moringa in the diet because, with 20 % of moringa, laying decreased and intake did not differ, which was divided into 110 g/bird/d.

Egg average weight did not differ between treatments with 0 and 20 % of moringa meal in diets, but it was higher in the treatment with 10 % of moringa (table 3). This result was difficult to explain so the relative content of white, yolk and shell + membranes in the egg during the last week of experimentation. Table 4 shows these results.

Treatment with 10 % of moringa produced bigger eggs because they contained more white than the rest of the treatments (in absolute and relative values). This suggests better efficiency in the use of protein and amino acids for protein synthesis with 10 % of moringa.

Treatment with 10 % of moringa also produced lower yolk synthesis in absolute and relative values regarding control (table 4). This may be attributed to lower ME availability for synthesis of yolk lipids or to a decrease effect provoked by lipogenesis of this diets with high contents of Moringa oleifera meal. The same happened with the Mulard ducks fed 20, 30, 40, 45 and 60 % of tree forage meal in diets used by Mesa et al. (2015), or with White Leghorn replacement birds fed 20% of meal from this plant in diets used Mesa (2016). 

Treatment with 10% of moringa had no differences in the content of shell in relative and absolute values regarding the control treatment.

Diet with 20% of moringa promoted higher content of shell in eggs (Table 4). This indicates a good use of calcium in the diet, despite being iso-calcic (table 1).

Calcium content of Moringa oleifera forage, Supergenius variety, ranges between 2.27% and 4.19%, according to Caro (2014), Bustamante (2014), Almeida (2015). Results of shell content with 20 % of moringa in the diet (table 4) show that calcium was efficiently used in this work.

White content with 20 % of moringa did not differ from control. This indicates that use efficiency of protein and amino acids of the diet with 20 % of moringa, for protein synthesis in the white, did not differ from control without moringa, although produced less total eggs than control treatment.

Diet with 20% of moringa promoted production of eggs with the same weight as the eggs of control diet (tables 3 and 4). However, these eggs contained less yolk than those of control diet, which could be associated with lower contribution of ME for lipid synthesis in the yolk or the cited reducer effect of lipogenesis.

In alfalfa meal, which is a forage meal rich in protein and high fiber content like moringa forage meal, ME values in birds are between 3.22 and 6.82 MJ ME/kg, according to Batal and Dale (2016) and Heuzé et al. (2016) that is associated to the content of crude fiber, EE, CP and ashes. It is possible that ME concentration, selected to formulate diets (7.94 MJ/kg) is over-dimensioned. Therefore, egg production and efficiency in the utilization of feed is damaged in this experiment, by including 20 % of moringa meal on the diet. In further experiments, ME increase should be evaluated in diets with 2 0% or more of Moringa oleifera.

Yolk pigmentation increased as moringa concentration increased in the diets (table 5). This is attributed to the contribution of carotenoid pigments from forage moringa (Abou et al. 2011, Moyo et al. 2011, Gakuya et al. 2014, Cabezas Valdivié and 2015, Mesa 2016).

In birds slaughtered at the end of the experiment at 50 weeks of age, abdominal fat content did not differ among treatments with 0 and 10 % of moringa meal (table 5), while diet with 20 % of moringa did not allow birds to retain or synthesize this abdominal fat and its presence was null or zero in the treatment with 20 %.

 Liver weight did not differ among diets with 0 and 10% of moringa. However, with 20 % of moringa, it was lower than in the control treatment. This is also attributed to a reduction of lipid synthesis and less deposition of triglycerides in the liver, because the contribution of ME and ether extract was lower, and crude fiber contribution of this diet with 20 % of moringa meal was higher (table 1).

In birds, the organ responsible for the synthesis of fatty acids is the liver (Crespo 2003), which also serves for the storage of fat in migratory birds and those dedicated to the production of fatty liver, when consuming abundant carbohydrates, lipids or amino acids  (Babilé 1989, Crespo 2003), or simply reduce its weight by consuming less energy.

Inhibition of abdominal fat and decrease of liver weight, caused by diet with 20 % of moringa, may have been caused by insufficient ME intake or other unidentified factors that are able to reduce lipogenesis, as stated by studies of Mesa et al. (2015) and Mesa (2016).

Weight of ovaries did not differ among treatments with 0 and 10% of moringa (table 5). However, it was decreased in the treatment with 20 % of moringa, which produced fewer eggs. This could be associated with the lowest maturation of follicles and also to the lowest yolk synthesis (table 4).

Weight of oviducts was not damaged with the use of diets with 0, 10 and 20 % of moringa, suggesting their normal development and performance in all treatments.

The price per ton of feed was always cheaper with the inclusion of moringa on diets and, particularly, with 20% of moringa (Table 6).

In addition, as the price per ton of moringa meal was reduced, the price per ton of feed was also lower.

Table 6 shows the cost of feed needed to produce 1,000 eggs, stating that with 10% of moringa meal, it is 17 cents cheaper than control, while the inclusion of 20 % of moringa meal on the diet increased the cost of thousand eggs in 10.35 US dollars, when compared to control.

Results of this study showed the possibility of using up to 10 % of Moringa oleifera meal (leaves+stems) in diets for laying hens between 34 and 50 weeks old.



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Received: 19/11/2014
Accepted: 06/07/2016



M. Valdivié, Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba. Email:


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