By Owen, OJ; Gunn, HH; Ideozu, HM; David, EU (2022).

Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences

Vol. 12(1), pp. 29-36, 2022

ISSN: 2276-7770

Copyright ©2022, the copyright of this article is retained by the author(s)


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The Effect of Bitter Kola (Garcinia Kola Heckel) Powder as Growth Promoter in Broiler Chickens Reared in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.


Owen, O.J.; Gunn, H.H.; Ideozu, H.M.*; David, E.U



Department of Animal Science, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.






Article No.: 010722001

Type: Research

Full text: HTML, PDF, EPUB, PHP


A study of 56 days (8 weeks) was carried out at the poultry section of Rivers State University of Science and Technology Nkpolu-Oroworukwo, Port-Harcourt Rivers State-Nigeria, to determine the effect of bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) powder as a growth promoter in broiler chickens. One hundred and forty four (144) unsexed day-old Anak strain broiler chicks were subjected to various concentrated levels of bitter kola at T1 (control), T2 (5g/kg), T3 (10g/kg), T4 (15g/kg) respectively following a Completely Randomized Design (CRD), with 36 birds/treatment and 12 birds/replicate. At the end of the study, 3 birds were picked from each treatment, euthanized using chloroform and blood samples were collected for haematological assay. Major organs were excise and weighed, data collection were subjected to Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Results obtained indicated significant effect (P<0.05) in all the growth and haematological indices measured. Although the best production and haematological indices such as reduced feed intake, improve growth rate, feed conversion ratio, Red Blood Cell, Haemoglobin, Packed Cell Volume and White Blood Cell were recorded in birds administered 15g/kg bitter kola, however all the treated groups presented better results over the control. It was therefore advocated that bitter kola should be included in broiler diets as a feed additive to improve their performance and digestibility.


Accepted:  14/01/2022

Published: 20/01/2022


*Corresponding Author

Ideozu, H.M.

E-mail: hansino22@ gmail. com


Keywords: Bitter kola, broiler chickens, feed conversion ratio, growth promoter, haematology, organs.








Bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) tree belongs to the botanical family of Guttiferae (Plowden, 1992). It is a medium-sized rain forest tree crop, well cultivated through West Indies, West and Central Africa (Okunji and Iwu, 1991). It is an evergreen tree which can grow up to 30m high but usually up to about 12-15m. The bitter kola fruit is used as food and herbal medicine and produces reddish, yellowish or orange seeds when ripe, containing two to four seeds. Each fruit contains about 6-8 smooth elliptically shaped seeds with brown coat. Bitter kola is popularly called in major Nigerian languages as ‘Namijingoro’ in Hausa, ‘Orogbo’ in Yoruba and ‘Agbilu’ in Igbo. The seeds have bitter taste (Aluka, 1985). Bitter kola (Garcinia spp) is known to have an elaborate complex mixture of phenolic compounds including bioflavonoids, xanthones and benzophenones (Iwu et al., 1990; Akpan et al., 2008; Braide, 1993). The bioflavonoid possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-diabetic properties (Adedeji et al., 2006; Afolabi et al., 2006). Adegboye et al., (2008) tested for the presence of alkaloids, steroids, cardiac glycosides, flavonoids, tannins, saponins and reducing sugar in bitter kola. All the phytochemical compounds tested for were found present except alkaloids. Other reports on phytochemical compounds isolated from bitter kola include oleoresin (Adumoradi et al., 2006; Onyade et al., 1998), tannins, saponins, alkaloids, cardiac glycosides (Ebana et al., 1991; Akpantah et al., 2005). Biflavonoids such as kolaflavone and 2-hydroxybi-flavonols (Okunji and Iwu, 1991; Terashima et al., 1999; Okunji et al., 2002). Also bitter kola was reported to contain in g/100g tannin- 0.342 ± 0.00, oxalate- 0.423 ± 0.00g, phytate- 0.570 ± 0.05, trypsin inhibitor- 0.370 ± 0.12, phenol- 0.147±0.00, saponin- 2.471 ± 0.00, alkaloids- 0.647 ± 0.20, flavonoids 2.041 ± 0.30 and glycosides 3.421 ± 0.00 (Cross et al., 2007; Adesuyi et al., 2012). The major active constituents (alkaloids and flavonoids) of bitter kola were reported to stimulate an increase in gastric acid secretion (Oluwole and Obtatomi, 1991). Bitter kola was reported to contain 0.58% crude protein, 0.10% crude fibre, 3% ether extract, 5% crude ash and 72.72% nitrogen free extract (Ibekwe and Orok, 2010 ). Odebunmi et al., (2009) reported fresh bitter kola to have 39.52 ± 0.06% dry matter, 4.51 ± 0.56% crude fat, 2.48 + 0.10%, crude protein, 0.79 ± 0.005% ash, 5.23 ± 0.16% crude fibre and 35.64% total carbohydrates. The following mineral compositions from bitter kola were also reported in mg/Kg: K -722.10 ± 0.00, Ca- 67.07 ± 0.12, Mg- 114.83 ± 3.47, Fe- 6.10 ± 0.43, Zn- 2.30 ± 0.08, Mn- not detectable, P-188.57 ± 0.37 (Odebunmi et al., 2009). Adesuyi et al., (2012) also reported the following proximate chemical composition for bitter kola: moisture content- 7.2 ± 0.08%, crude protein- 1.86 ± 0.15%, crude fibre- 1.23 ± 0.15%, ash- 0.47 ± 0.09%, crude fat- 0.19 ± 0.32%, carbohydrate- 88.30 ± 0.08%. Bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) is traditionally used by African medical herbalists who believe that it has purgative, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and antimicrobial properties for the treatment of bronchitis, throat infections, colic, head or chest colds, coughs, eye pressure, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, improve lung function, impotence, knee osteoarthritis, liver disorders and scientific preliminary study research of the plant in the 1990s showed signs that it may benefit ebola victims by slowing down multiplication of the virus and also in animal studies, Garcinia kola increases the activities of the enzymes lactate dehydrogenase and glucose -6- phosphate dehydrogenase ( kola).





Location of Study


The experiment was carried out at the poultry production section of Teaching and Research farm of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nkpolu Oroworukwo, Port Harcourt. Rivers State lies between longitude 50 50’E and latitude 40 45’N and has a mean annual temperature of 260C. Total annual rainfall is about 1700mm­­ – 4700mm (Salawu et al., 1993).


Source, Processing Method


The fresh bitter kola seeds were purchased from a local market (Oil mill) Rumuchorlu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State- Nigeria. Bitter kola seeds were sliced, and air dried. The soft brown testa was then removed before grinding into powdered form. It was incorporated into top feed finisher feed (Fig. 1) with protein content of 18% and energy content of 2900 Kcal/kg ME.


Experimental Birds


One hundred and forty-four (144) unsexed day-old broiler chicks were allocated randomly to pens. The breed used for this experiment was of Anak Strain sourced from Zartech Hatchery in Oyo State. The chicks were brooded on deep litter using 200 watt bulbs and kerosene stoves. Water and feed were administered ad-libitum during the study.

Routine vaccinations and medications were strictly adhered to in the course of the study; standard sanitary management was also adhered to.


Experimental design and data analysis


Powdered bitter kola was incorporated into proprietory broiler finisher mashes at graded levels with 0g bitter kola /kg of feed which served as control treatment 1, while treatments 2,3, and 4 had 5g/kg, 10g/kg and 15g/kg of feed respectively as diet inclusions. There were four treatments with three replications, each treatment had thirty six (36) birds with twelve (12) birds in each replicate distributed into twelve (12) pens and well tagged according to treatment. The design of the experiment was Completely Randomized Design (CRD). The study lasted for 28 days (4 weeks).The data collected were subjected to Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and the differences between treatment means where they existed were separated using Duncan’s New Multiple Range Test (DNMRT).


Housing Technique


The chicks were randomly allocated into a standard dwarf walled building measuring 30m x 7.5m with wire mesh covering the height between the tops of the wall and the roof. The roof was of the asbestos type and the building was divided into 48 pens with twelve (12) pens per experimental unit each measuring 3m x 12m to provide 0.42m2 of floor space per bird. Polythene was utilized in the covering of the wire gauzed sides of the building to conserve environmental temperature within the building for the first few weeks. The floor was littered with wood shavings.


Performance Parameters Evaluated


At the onset of the experiment mean initial body weight of the birds were measured and recorded. Mortality was recorded as it occurred. The parameters evaluated were weight gain, feed intake and feed conversion ratio. Feed intake was measured on daily basis and obtained by subtracting the left-over from the feed given; the sum total was done every week. The birds were weighed in groups to determine the body weight. Weight gain was obtained by subtracting the initial weight from the final weight. The feed conversion ratio was measured as total feed intake over total weight gain


Collection of Blood Samples


On termination of the study, twelve birds(12) i.e. 3 birds per treatment were collected for haematological assay to determine Haemoglobin (Hb), Packed Cell Volume (PCV), Red Blood Cells (RBC), White Blood Cells (WBC) and WBC differentials such as neutrophil, lymphocytes, eosinophils, monocytes and basophils. Blood samples were collected from the birds via the jugular vein into a set of well labelled sterilized bottles, containing Ethylene Diamine Tetra-Acetate (EDTA) as anti-coagulant and taken to Haematological Department of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital for analyses.





The data on the effect of bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) as a growth promoter on broiler chickens are presented in Table 4.1. The results obtained showed that significant differences (P<0.05) existed in all the parameters measured in relation to final body weight, body weight gain, and feed conversion ratio and no significant differences (P>0.05) existed in feed intake.


Final Weight


The mean final body weights for the birds were 2.65kg, 2.80kg, 2.85kg and 3.00kg respectively for T1, T2, T3 and T4 respectively. The highest final weight was recorded in T4 and was least in T1 which is the control with comparable final weights in T2 and T3.


Body Weight Gain


The mean total body weight gain for the birds were 2.57kg, 2.72kg, 2.77 kg and 2.91kg respectively for T1, T2, T3 and T4. The highest mean total body weight gain was recorded in T4 (15g/kg) and was least in T1 (control), while comparable weight gains were observed in T2, T3.


Feed Intake


The result on mean total feed intake showed no significant (P>0.05) difference between the control and the treated groups and were observed as 12.00kg, 11.85kg, 12.50kg and 11.55kg respectively for T1, T2, T3 and T4. The highest feed intake was recorded in T3 (10g/kg) while the least was observed in T4 (15g/kg) and T2 (5g/kg) respectively.


Feed Conversion Ratio


Feed conversion ratio (feed intake/weight gain) was superior in T4 (15g/kg) and the least feed conversion ratio was observed in the T1 (control). Data on feed conversion ratio ranged from 3.97.- 4.67.


Feed Cost of Production


Data on the cost of feed showed that T1, T2, T3, T4 recorded N1248.00, N1235.25, N1305.70 and N1209.75 respectively. The data showed that T4 (15g/kg) had the least cost of production while the highest cost of feed production was recorded in T3 (10g/kg). This equally reflected in the total feed consumed.



Table 4.1. The effect of bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) on the performance characteristics of broiler chickens


Parameters                T1Og/kg(control)           T2(5g/kg)            T3(10g/kg)               T4(15g/kg)            SEM

Mean initial weight (kg)               0.87                     0.83                       0.85                       0.81                      -

Mean final weight (kg)                 2.65c                        2.80bc                         2.85b                           3.00a                       0.06 

Mean total weight gain (kg)         2.57c                        2.72bc                         2.77b                           2.91a                         0.04

Mean daily weight gain (g)          91.79c                     97.14bc                      98.93b                        103.93a                     0.86

Mean total feed intake (kg)        12.00                          11.85                   12.50                          11.55                          0.13

Mean daily feed intake (g)         428.60                       423.20                       446.40                       412.50                   2.05

Feed conversion ratio                 4.67                     4.36                      4.51                       3.97                     0.05

Cost of feed without

B. kola/Kg (N)                           1248.00               1232.40                  1300.00               1201.20              

Cost of feed with

B. kola/Kg (N)                           1248.00               1266.17                  1371.25               1299.95                                                  


abcd Means within a  row with different superscripts differ significantly at (P < 0.05).

  SEM: Standard Error mean



Effect of Bitter Kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) on Organ Weights


The effect of Bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) on the organ and dressed weights are depicted in Table 4.2. The organs evaluated were liver, heart, spleen, gizzard, and gall bladder. All the organs and dressed weights evaluated in this study excepting that of the gall bladder were significantly (P<0.05) different at the various levels of dietary inclusion. The mean dressed weight was highest in T4 (15g/kg) and least in T1 (control). The dressed weights ranged from 2.05kg -2.25kg in the control and the treated group of birds. The highest mean gizzard, heart, liver, spleen weights were recorded in T4 and this was also reflected in the mean total weight gain and the dressed weight of birds.



Table 4.2: The effects of Bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) on the dressed and organ weights of broiler chickens


Parameters                                         T1(control)                 T2(5g/kg)                     T3(10g/kg)                               T4(15g/kg)                             SEM

Dressed weight (kg)







Liver (g)







Heart (g)







Spleen (g)







Gizzard (g)







Gall bladder (g)







abc Means within a row with different superscripts differs significantly at (P < 0.05)

SEM: Standard Error mean



Table 4.3: The effect of bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) on organ weights of broiler chicken expressed as percentage (%) of dressed weights.


Parameters                                     T1(control)                       T2(5g/kg)                T3(10g/kg)                                 T4(15g/kg)                   SEM

Dressed weight (kg)
































Gall bladder






abc Means within a row with different superscripts differs significantly at (P < 0.05)

SEM: Standard Error mean



Effects of Bitter Kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) on the Haematological Parameters


Results on the heamatological parameters (Heamoglobin, Red Blood Cell, Packed Cell Volume, White Blood Cell and White Blood Cell differentials) of broiler chickens treated with varying levels of bitter kola (G. kola) feed additive are presented in Table 4.3. The result showed that apart from Red Blood Cell (RBC), all other parameters measured showed significant (P<0.05) differences.


The mean values for Heamoglobin (Hb) were 10.25g/l for T1 (control). The values recorded for T2, T3 and T4 were 10.30g/l, 10.50g/l, and 11.40g/l respectively.

Also the mean value for Red Blood Cell (RBC) were 2.40 X 1012/l for T1 (control) and ranged from 2.38 X 1012/l – 2.50 X 1012/l for the treatment groups. Although there was no significant (P<0.05) differences among the control and the treated groups RBC, T3 presented the highest numerical value with the least from T2.


Mean values for Packed Cell Volume (PCV) were 42.00%, 42.10%, 48.20% and 50.00% respectively for T1, T2, T3 and T4.


The results obtained further showed that the values obtained for White Blood Cell (WBC) ranged from 8.30 X 109/l – 13.40 X 109/l for the control and the treated group of birds.


The T1 (control) recorded the least value of 8.30 X 109/l while T4 (15g/kg) had the highest value of 13.40 X 109/l.


Table 4.4: The effect of graded levels of bitter kola (Garcinia kola, Heckel) on the haematological indices of broiler chickens


Parameters                          T1(control)            T2(5g/kg)           T3(10g/kg)         T4 (15g/kg)        SEM


Haemoglobin (g/l)                     10. 25 b                      10.30b                10.50ab                    11.40 a             0.20

Red Blood cell (x 1012/l)            2.40                        2.38                  2.50                    2.45                 0.01     

Packed cell volume (%)            42.00 b                       42.10 b                    48.20 a                    50.00a                 1.30

White blood cell (x 109/l)           8.30c                           9.00 c                     10.50b                    13.40 a                  0.74

WBC Differentials (%)

Neutrophils                               48.60b                        49.00 b                    56.00 a                  59.50a                  1.69        

lymphocytes                             32.50b                   38.00a                     39.00 a               32.00b                1.20

Eosinophils                               1.75c                     2.50b                      4.00 a                  3.40a                  0.30

Monocytes                                1.50a                      0.80b                  1.50a                   0.85b                     0.09

Basophils                                 -                                -                            -                            -                          -

abc Means within a row with different superscripts differ significantly at (P<0.05).

SEM: Standard Error mean       





The results from this experiment indicated that broilers had better growth performance potentials in terms of final weight, weight gain, feed intake, feed conversion ratio and feed cost of production when dried bitter kola was added to the proprietary feed as a feed additive at 15g/kg level over the control for 28 days (4 weeks). Reported literature has suggested that plant materials enhance the secretion of endogenous digestive enzymes and activate the immune response and antioxidant activities (Jamroz et al., 2003; Edacha et al., 2009) and so presently, commercial additives of plant origin have been proposed and are being developed as possible replacements for synthetic antibiotics (Williams and Losa 2001, Kocabagli et al 2002, Lee et al, 2003; Aregheore et al., 1998). Of these, significant attention has been placed on herbs, spices and their by-products as either single compounds or mixtures (Gill, 1999, Alaje et al., 2014, Aletor et al., 2002, Cabuk et. al., 2006) which are having phytobiotics advantages on growth response and prevents microbial, fungal, bacterial, viral multiplication and reduces its damage effect on the intestinal wall (Hossain, 2009). Also better feed conversion ratio obtained from broilers fed dried bitter kola diet could be compared with the work of Adedeji et al., (2006) who obtained highest (P<0.05) feed efficiency from broiler chicks fed 25g per Kg diet dried bitter kola over other broilers without bitter kola in their diets. Adedeji et al., (2008) also obtained better (P<0.05) hen day production and albumen weight from hens fed 10g/Kg diet dried bitter kola than those on the control treatment and those on treatments with bitter kola supplementation below and above 10g/Kg diet. Also research using Citrulluscolocynthis (bitter apple or bitter cucumber) seed meal which is also a phytogenic on broilers revealed higher (P<0.05) body weight in birds fed the seed meal than those on the control diet. Feed conversion ratio was also better (P<0.05) in broilers fed the seed meal than those on the control diet (Keniufca et al., 1997; Gaytan et al., 2002; Sayda et al., 2012).


In addition the better weight gain obtained from broilers fed dried bitter kola in this study could be compared with the work of Dada and Ikuerowo (2009) who reported that fish fed 1g/kg diet ethalonic extract of bitter kola had best (P<0.05) weight gain than those fed the control diet and those fed 0.25, 0.5 and 2g/kg diet ethanolic extract of bitter kola. Osifo et al., (2011) administered oral suspension of dried bitter kola to rabbits at 1200, 1500 and 1800mg/kg body weight and observed significantly (P<0.05) lower body weights from rabbits administered 1500 and 1800mg/Kg body weight oral suspension of dried bitter kola. There were no differences in terms of body weights between rabbits on the control diet and those administered 1200mg/Kg body weight. This result is contrary to the result obtained in this study possibly because in this study the bitter kola seed powder was used rather than the extract, the amount of the bitter kola administered to the animals coupled with the variation in the species of the animals also differs. On the other hand, enhanced growth performance was also reported in poultry (Adedeji et al., 2006; Oko and Agiang 2009) and rats (Oluyemi et al., 2007) fed diets containing bitter kola extracts. All the mortalities that occurred in this study could not be related to any specific cause, as such were assumed to have occurred by chance. The study reported appeared to justify the addition of bitter kola in broiler diets.


Haematological parameters are important indicators of health status in animals and have been an indispensable tool in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of many diseases. Blood assay is a sensitive indicator that reveals the birds’ general health as general changes in the parameters can be seen when no other abnormality is detected.


Normal haematological values for domestic fowl are as follows: PCV 25 – 55%, RBC 2- 4 X 1012/l, Hb 7 – 13g/l, WBC 9 – 31 X 109/l (Mitruka, H.M. and Rawnsley, S.K. 1997; Durunna et al., 2009).


The function of Haemoglobin is in the transportation of oxygen and carbon dioxide. A decrease in the level of haemoglobin in the blood is indicative of poor nutrition including dietary deficiency of copper, iron, amino acids and vitamin (Frandson, 1981; Onayade et al., 1998; Loycova et al., 2001).


It has been established that certain haematological factors can be associated with certain production traits. For example it has been reported that high PCV and high Hb are associated with high feed conversion ratio (Jadgish and Pandey, 1994; Mitruka and Rawnsley, 1977) while high percentage of White Blood Cells especially lymphocytes are associated with the ability of the chicken to perform well under stressful conditions.


The findings in this study is in consonance with this and this is probably the reason for the relatively high performance of the birds placed on the treated groups in relation to weight gain and feed conversion with low feed intake when compared with the control group. The PCV values obtained in this study agreed with the reports of (Hunt et al., 1980; Mitruka and Rawnsley, 1977; Banerjee, 2008; Owen and Amakiri, 2012). This could be due to compensatory accelerated production of Packed Cell Volume which returns PCV levels to normal level (Tambuwal et al, 2002; Owen and Amakiri 2011).


The WBC plays a major role in defending the body against disease producing bacteria, viruses and fungi. A deficiency in WBC may result in an increased susceptibility to infections. The higher values of WBC recorded in the treated groups is suggestive of a well adapted immune system. A decrease in white blood cell count in birds placed in the control group is a reflection of the decline in the production of WBC for defensive action against infections. It probably explains why the birds in the treated groups consumed less feed and presented better weight gain and feed conversion when compared to the control which may have been subjected to various physiological stresses. However, all the haematological parameters evaluated had values that fall within the normal range and mean values of chickens as reported by Mitruka and Rawnsley (1997) and Banerjee (2008).

Consequently, the effects of any feed ingredient or additive on the blood profile of the chicken are of immense assistance in deciding whether or not such a feed ingredient or additive should be used in poultry feed (Owen et al., 2008; Terashima et al., 2002).





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Cite this Article: Owen, OJ; Gunn, HH; Ideozu, HM; David, EU (2022). The Effect of Bitter Kola (Garcinia Kola Heckel) Powder as Growth Promoter in Broiler Chickens Reared in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences 12(1): 29-36.