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The word "poultry" comes from the French/Norman word poule, itself derived from the Latin word pullus, which means small animal. "Poultry" can be defined as domestic fowls, including chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, raised for the production of meat or eggs and the word is also used for the flesh of these birds used as food (American Heritage, 2009). Poultry production is an innovative and high technology sector producing mainly chicken meat and eggs. More than 50 billion chicken are raised annually in the world as source of food to man (FAO, 2010). Poultry are farmed in great numbers with chicken being the most numerous. The advantages of poultry over other livestock are primarily due to the short and relatively quick turnover of the investment and high-quality protein products (Adeyemo et al., 2010). As a result of growing human population, there is high demand for poultry products such as its meat, egg and feather (FAO, 2002). Poultry production is an important rapid growing money-making industry.

The poultry birds which are raised for commercial meat production are called broiler poultry. The benefit of broiler production is eroded by the high cost of feed and it has been well established that feed alone account for about 70% of the total cost of poultry production. It is true that the poultry industry owes its existence to the human need of food (Akinwumi et al., 1979). The problem of high cost of antibiotic has generated a lot of concern in broiler production. Poultry meat and egg have over the centuries been proven to be a nutritional source of protein but unfortunately, the antibiotic industries have increased the prices of antibiotic which lead to high cost of broilers production in the countries, this has contributed to the acute animal protein shortage in the countries. The bans on the use of antibiotics as feed additive have accelerated and led to investigation of natural alternatives in animal production (Hanno, 2001). Wang et al. (1998) reported that compared with synthetic antibiotics or inorganic chemicals, these plants derived products have proven to be natural, less toxic, and residual free and are thought to be ideal feed additive in food animal production. There are rich store houses of medicinal plant that exist everywhere especially African which offers a vast reservoir of plant that has been categorised (Aligu et al., 2003).

Melons are all "Cucumbers" (Cucurbits or Cucurbitaceae) to the botanist, along with squash, gourds and actual cucumbers. Wild Christmas melon (Lagenaria breviflora) belongs to the plant family Cucurbitaceae. It is a perennial climber ascending to the forest canopy, occurring from Senegal to the West Cameroons, and generally widespread in tropical Africa. Wild Christmas melons are solid and uniform all the way through with seeds embedded in the flesh. This fruit can be obtained in the tropical or sub-tropical areas (Orisakeye and Johnson, 2015). Previous phytochemical screening of Lagenaria breviflora revealed the presence of triterpenoid saponins. The alleged uses of the fruit are for the treatment of cold in man and coccidiosis in birds, schistosomiasis, antifertility and haematinic effects. A broad-spectrum antibacterial activity of the whole fruit of Wide Christmas melon has also been reported.

1.1       Justification

The presence of antibiotic residue in poultry meat and the development of resistant strain of bacteria called for the use of alternate means of controlling diseases to reduce bioaccumulation of chemicals in the body of the poultry birds and human body through the consumption of poultry meat. The use of ethno veterinary medicine may be a cheaper alternative means of controlling poultry disease. The use of wild Christmas melon in controlling poultry disease may be a means of producing organic poultry and also a means of raising healthy poultry birds.

1.2       General Objective

The general objective of this research work is to determine the haematology and serum biochemical indices of broiler chicken fed peeled aqueous extract of wild Christmas melon (Lagenaria breviflora) in replacement for commercial antibiotics at starter phase.

1.3       Specific Objectives

  1. To determine the haematological parameters of broiler chicken given peeled aqueous extract of peeled wild Christmas melon (Lagenaria breviflora) in replacement for commercial antibiotics (Neuzeril).
  2. To determine the serum biochemical indices of broiler chicken given peeled aqueous extract of wild Christmas melon (Lagenaria breviflora) as a substitute for antibiotics at starter phase.