This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of dietary pigeon pea seed meal on the growth performance and haematological characteristics of West African Dwarf (WAD) sheep. Four diets were formulated to contain pigeon pea seed meal (PSM) at 0, 10, 20 and 30% levels, representing diets A, B, C, and D, respectively. Twelve weaned rams averaging 8.57 kg body weight and aged 7-8 months were used in the study. The rams were divided into 4 groups of 3 rams housed singly in pens, and each group assigned to one of the four diets for 8 weeks in a completely randomized design experiment. Data collected included, average daily weight gain (g), daily dry matter intake (g) and feed conversation ratio (g feed /g grain) calculated. Haematological and biochemical characteristics were also evaluated. Average daily weight gain was significantly (P<0.05) better in diet A and C than diet D, but diets A, B and C were similar (P>0.05). Feed conservation ratio differed significantly (P<0.05) among the groups, with diet C recording better conversion ratio than diets A and D, respectively. The PSM diets generally promoted lower PCV and higher WBC values in sheep. Neutrophil and lymphocytes were significantly (P<0.05) affected by the PSM. While neutrophil increased with increasing level of PSM, the converse was true about lymphocytesood glucose, and urea in the animals were also significantly (P<0.05) influenced by PSM, which followed the same pattern as the nuetrophil and lymphocytes respectively. Serum gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (SGGTP) and serum gamma-glutamyl transferase (SGGT) were significantly (P<0.05) higher in sheep fed on control diet A than in those fed on either diet C or D. Serum creatinine was significantly (P<0.05) higher in sheep fed on control diet than in those on the PSM diets. The results of this study indicated that processed pigeon pea seed could be used as a plant protein resource for sheep, but may not be included beyond 20% for optimum performance and physiological welfare of the animal.
Key words: Pigeon pea, West African Dwarf, sheep, weaner rams diet.
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