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Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science

Print version ISSN 0864-0408On-line version ISSN 2079-3480

Cuban J. Agric. Sci. vol.50 no.3 Mayabeque Jul.-Sept. 2016


Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, 50(3): 435-443, 2016, ISSN: 2079-3480




Mucuna pruriens grain meal, germinated and non- germinated, for broilers: their effect on physiological indicators


Harina de granos de Mucuna pruriens, germinados y sin germinar, para pollos de ceba: su efecto en indicadores fisiológicos



Madeleidy Martínez-Pérez, María Felicia Díaz, Yasmila Hernández, Mariela Sarmiento, Lucía Sarduy, F. Sierra

Instituto de Ciencia Animal, km 47 ½ Carretera Central, San José de Las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba.




In order to evaluate the replacement of soybean by Mucuna pruriens (mucuna) grain meal, germinated and non- germinated, in physiological indicators of broilers, a total of 30 male broilers of 21 d of age were used, distributed according to completely randomized design with three treatments. These consisted of an equal number of experimental diets for grower and finisher, respectively: control (maize-soybean paste) and the inclusion of soybean paste by 10% of grain meal of the raw and germinated legume of the ration. Caecal, health and morphometric indicators of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) were studied. To the latter, Pearson correlation was performed and, later, multivariate analysis using the principal components method. There was a correlation between the 27 variables studied in the morphometric indicators. The production of total short chain fatty acids (SCFA) in cecum was lower with the inclusion of grain meal of the non-germinated legume compared with the rest of treatments that did not differ between each other (176.44 vs 208.30 and 211.20 meq/L). No differences were observed for the immunological organs, blood indicators and main components of carcass and live weight. It is concluded that when supplying diets to birds with mucuna grains, germinated and non-germinating, the GIT weight was modified to make a more efficient use of the food and did not affect the health or the body composition of the broiler which intake the diet.

Key words: legume, germination, physiology, birds.


Para evaluar la sustitución de soya por harina de granos de Mucuna pruriens (mucuna), germinados y sin germinar, en indicadores fisiológicos de pollos de engorde, se utilizaron 30 pollos de ceba machos, de 21 d de edad, distribudos según diseño completamente aleatorizado con tres tratamientos. Estos consistieron en igual número de dietas experimentales para crecimiento y acabado, respectivamente: control (maíz-pasta de soya) y la inclusión de pasta de soya por 10 % de harina de granos de la leguminosa cruda y germinada de la ración. Se estudiaron indicadores fermentativos cecales, de salud y morfométricos del tracto gastrointestinal (TGI). A estos últimos, se les realizó correlación de Pearson y, posteriormente, análisis multivariado por el método de componentes principales. Hubo correlación entre las 27 variables en estudio de los indicadores morfométricos. La producción de ácidos grasos de cadena corta (AGCC) totales en ciego fue menor con la inclusión de harina de granos de la leguminosa sin germinar en comparación con el resto de los tratamientos que no difirieron entre sí (176.44 vs 208.30 y 211.20 meq/L). No se observaron diferencias para los órganos inmunológicos, indicadores sanguíneos y principales componentes de las canales y peso vivo. Se concluye que al suministrar dietas a las aves con granos de mucuna, germinados y sin germinar, se modificó el peso del TGI para hacer un uso más eficiente del alimento y no  afectar la salud ni la composición corporal de los pollos de ceba que la consumen.

Palabras clave: leguminosa, germinación, fisiología, aves.




Legume grains have been widely studied. They highlight as a source of protein and other nutrients, attractive for animal feeding (Brand et al., 2004, Carbonaro et al. 2015). The disadvantages of its use are related to the presence of anti-nutritional factors (ANFs) (Elizalde et al. 2009, Huang et al. 2014). For this reason, different alternative methods have been used to attenuate or reduce these limitations, as in the case of germination.

According to Sarmento (2012) and Benítez et al. (2013), the germination process generally improves the nutritional quality of legumes, not only by reducing the anti-nutrient components but also by increasing the levels of free amino acids, usable carbohydrates, dietary fiber and other components.

Díaz et al. (2009) studied three variants of the germination process in temporal grain legumes (Canavalia ensiformes, Mucuna pruriens, Vigna unguiculata and Glycinemax) and concluded that, given the practical feasibility of obtaining them, the variant of illumination intervals could be used for studies in animal feeding.

Although the chemical composition and physical characteristics of this variant have been widely studied, little has been reported of its use in monogastric animals. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the morphometric, fermentative and health indicators in broilers that intake grain meal, germinated and non-germinating, of Mucuna pruriens (mucuna) in the ration.



Animals and diets. Thirty male broilers (hybrid HE21) were used, with 765g as average and 21d of age. They were randomly allocated in individual cages for metabolism, with dimensions of 40 x 40 x 40 cm. During the experimentation period, the animals had free access to water and food.

The experimental treatments consisted on three diets for grower and finisher (table 1), elaborated according to NRC (1994): I) control (maize-soybean paste); 2) inclusion of 10% of mucuna grain meal without germinating in the ration; 3) inclusion of 10% of meal of germinated mucuna grain.

Obtaining of mucuna grain meal, germinated and non- germinated. The grains of mucuna, pint variety, were obtained from a plantation of the farm ICA, located in Mayabeque province, Cuba.

The germination process was carried out in the Grasses and Forages Department from the Instituto de Ciencia Animal. Light intervals of 12 h light and an equal amount of darkness were used for 96 h, as described by Díaz et al. (2004).

Both grains, germinated and non-germinated, were dried in a stove at 60 ºC for 48 h. Then they were ground in a hammer mill to obtain the meal. They were kept in sacks until the moment of their use.

Experimental procedure. The experiment was carried out at the Instituto de Ciencia Animal.

At 42 d, the animals were weighed and individually slaughtered two hours and thirty minutes after feed ingestion by the jugular vein bleeding method described by Sánchez (1990). Subsequently, the abdominal cavity was opened and accessory organs (liver and pancreas) and immunological (Bursa of Fabricius and spleen) and digestive tract were removed. The latter was divided for their analysis in crop, proventriculus, gizzard, small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum), caecuma and final portion (colon and rectum).

The digestive organs were weighed full and empty (eliminating the digestive contents by moving the index finger and thumb to empty them) in a technical balance brand SARTORIUS.

The skin and the feathers were separated from the canals after eviscerated. The heart and fat content were weighed. Subsequently, the primary cuts (legs and breast) were made. For the statistical analysis, the weights were expressed as relative to live weight (LW).

Caecal fermentative indicators. The total short chain fatty acid determinations (total SCFA) were performed in appropriate dilutions, after centrifugation at 3,000 rpm. a gram of caecal content in 1:10 dilution with distilled water, and after discarding the precipitate (Ly et al., 1980). The sample fermentation was stopped by the addition of mercuric bichloride at10 % (0.02 mL). The distillation method in steam stripping equipment Pennington (1952) was used.

The pH was determined with a pH digital meter (WPA, English manufacturing CD-70 serie) before subjecting the sample to centrifugation.

Hematological indicators. To measure the hematocrit, the blood filled of capillaries for micro-hematocrit was performed to a third part. These were sealed with a burner and centrifuged for 10 minutes at 3 500 r.p.m. Subsequently, the reading was performed in a Hawkley micro-hematocrit equipment, manufactured in England with a mobile scale reader that allowed it to be placed in the level of the hematic sediments. The reading was then proceeded.

To measure hemoglobin, the cyanometahemoglobin method described by Crosby et al. (1954) was used.
0.2 mL of diluted blood was taken with 5 mL of Drabkin reagent, and after 10 minutes was read at 540 nm. Distilled water was used as control.

Statistical methods. To the 27 morphometric measures related to the weights of the different sections, full and empty, as well as the digesta contents, Pearson correlation were performed and later, multivariate analysis using the principal components method. The SPSS statistical system on Windows XP, version 15.0.1 (IBM Corporation 2006) was used.

For the rest of the indicators, a completely randomized design with three treatments was used, which consisted on experimental diets and ten repetitions of one animal. For the analysis of the results, the computerized statistical package INFOSTAT (Di Rienzo et al. 2012) was used. The mean values were compared by the Duncan test (1955) in necessary cases.



There was correlation between the 27 variables of the morphometric indicators under study. Eight of them explained the measures related to the weights of the different sections, full and empty, as well as the digesta content, with eigen values higher than 1. The contribution of these variables to the system was 82 % of the accumulated variance. Table 2 shows the weight coefficients: empty tract, pancreas and full caecuma, colon, proventriculus, digesta in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), caecum lengths, digesta in the small intestine, liver and colon length.

In the empty tract there was a high contribution of the weight variables of GIT, gizzard and small intestine. This performance was to be expected, since according to Mateos et al. (2006), the TGI of birds is flexible anatomically and physiologically, allowing them to adapt better to different food circumstances. This group of researchers also suggested that during the transit by the GIT, the fiber swells to a variable degree, increasing the voluminosity and chyme weight, aspects observed in previous researchers with raw and germinated soybean grain (Martínez et al. 2013). Therefore, it is possible to expect a higher size of the GIT in birds which intake raw and germinated mucuna, as well as that the effect varies according to the characteristics of this fiber, since its main effect can be related to phenomena of mere physical distension.

The birds fit the enzymes release and modify the transit speed of the digestive content to maximize food digestion and nutrient absorption (Mateos et al. 2002), which may induce higher function of the small intestine to degrade fibrous food. In this organ, the biliary secretions flow from the liver, the gallbladder and the pancreas, which secrete the pancreatic juice. In addition, in the walls of the intestinal mucosa there are other tubular glands, possibly homologous to those of Brünner of mammals, which secrete mucus, and those of Lieberkühn, which secrete intestinal juice (Denbow 2000). In the presence of the food, the enzymatic secretion of each of them is activated to carry out the digestive process, which allows establishing a high correlation between the weight of the small intestine full and the digesta in this section, when using the Mucuna grain, non- germinated and germinated.

The portion colon + rectum is of small length and the food passage time is short, so it must be very efficient in the nutrients absorption (Alvarez et al. 2014). Perhaps, for this reason, there is a close relation between the weights of the section full and empty and digesta, by including the germinated mucuna as raw in the diet of broilers.

High coefficients in the weight of the full caeca and in their digesta contents were observed, as well as in the length of the right and left (table 2). Duke (1997) stated that the bird, in order to increase its fermentative capacity against a coarse feed, can increase the size and length of its organs and, in particular, of the caecuma.

In the germinated and non-germinated grain of mucuna, Cantera (2011) found high apparent density, which is positively related to the occupied volume. Hence, this performance could be due to the physiological adaptation of the bird, due to the increase of the permanence time of the food in this organ so that it increases the digestive capacity, microbial mass and fermentation end products. This was reported by Eastwood (1992) and Carew et al. (2003).

There were no differences between treatments and between control and grain meal of germinated mucuna, while both differed from non- germinated legume, where total SCFA were lower (table 3). In general, it is considered that the caeca inside the digestive tract of the birds constitute the fundamental site where the fiber digestion occurs, due to the great fermentative activity that they have (Savón 2002) by the bacteria presence (Apajalahti and Kettunen 2002) and cellulolytic fungi (Rodríguez et al. 1996), which show an adaptive response to the values of the diet fraction (Varel et al. 1984). It is very probable that the non-germinate grains have effect on the populations of these microorganisms, so that the production of these compounds at the cecal level decreases.

There were not differences for the immunological organs (table 4). It seems that the levels of anti-nutritional factors which contributes the germinated and non- germinated legume do not cause damage to animal health, although Aguilera et al. (2013) reported that the process improves the values of enzymes inhibitors and inositol-phosphates and increases the phenolic compounds and the antioxidant activity.

According to Giambrone (1996), when the ratio between the weights of the Bursa of Fabricius and the live weight of the animal, is higher than unit, the birds are not immunodepressed. This is in correspondence with what was found in the analysis of blood indicators (table 5) and the main components of the carcass and live weight (table 6), since differences between treatments were not observed. Therefore, it can be inferred that the intake of mucuna grain, germinated and non - germinated, does not cause immunological damage and promotes good body weight and body composition in animals.

From the obtained results, it is concluded that when feeding diets to the birds with germinated and non- germinated mucuna grain, the gastrointestinal tract weight was modified and the production of total cecal SCFA increased, in order to make a more efficient use of the food. It was also verified that the meal of the raw and germinated legume does not affect the health or the body composition of broilers which intake it, when are included at levels of 10 % in the diets.



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Received: 01/08/2016
Accepted: 28/09/2016



Madeleidy Martínez-Pérez, Instituto de Ciencia Animal, km 47 ½ Carretera Central, San José de Las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba. Email:

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