Feeding chickens on an organic diet containing fresh bamboo leaves results in them weighing up to 70% more than those fed on standard organic diets, according to results from INBAR’s Action Research Site in Abra Province, The Philippines. The results suggest that the fibre in the bamboo leaves enlarges the digestive tract and enables the chickens to consume more and to grow faster.
At an organic chicken farm run by the project (the Bambu Organic Natural Farm), one-day-old organic chicks were sourced from a certified supplier and split into two test and two control batches that were treated as follows.
1. The two control batches were fed a standard organic diet of fermented vegetables, corn, muscovado and fermented fish.
2. The five test batches were fed a standard organic diet of fermented vegetables, corn, muscovado and fermented fish, with bamboo leaves added.
Young bamboo leaves were harvested by hand on a daily basis to ensure freshness, from a widely-grown Bambusa species known locally as “bayog”. If supplies of bayog were not readily available, another commonly-growing species, Bambusa blumeana (“kawayan tinik”), was substituted. The bamboos grow naturally within the chicken farm itself and are not cultivated, and hence organic. The leaves were chopped very finely and mixed into the standard chick feed from day one to day seven. For the older chickens (days eight and onwards), fresh bamboo leaves were made available for them to peck at; the leafy branches were pruned from the bamboos and placed on the ground throughout the ranging area.
The results show a huge improvement in the weights of the chickens fed on bamboo, with them being 70% heavier by the fifty-sixth day.
Work continues to investigate the effects of changing the ratio of bamboo leaves to other fodder, on the number of days bamboo leaves are included in the fodder, on other bamboo species and on different breeds of chicken. The work suggests the enormous potential for using bamboo leaves as chicken fodder, though more trials are needed.