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Effect of Organic Acids on the Performance of Japanese Quails.

Byline: Rifat Ullah Khan, Naila Chand and Akbar Ali


Organic acid was administered to Japanese quails as 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2ml of Aciflex(r) per liter of drinking water. Significantly low (P<0.05) feed and water intake was found in 2ml group compared to the control group. Highest weight gain, best feed conversion ratio (FCR), dressing percentage, liver weight and lowest mortality were obtained in 2ml compared to the control. Significantly higher feed cost was observed in the control group, while it was the same in all other groups. However, gross return was not affected by organic acids supplementation. Net return was significantly higher in 1.5 and 2ml groups and was the least in the control group. It was concluded that organic acid supplementation in drinking water at the rate of 2ml/L of drinking water improved performance and economic return in Japanese quails.

Key words

Japanese quail, organic acid, performance, economic


Japanese quails are economically very important because of egg and meat production. Although the quail production is not established yet occupies an important place in poultry meat production (Genchev et al., 2008). The rearing of quail is now a common practice and could help to overcome the present gap in meat supply and demand (Minvielle, 2004). Quails play a key role in broiler meat industry and have better efficiency to convert feed into meat. The peculiar taste and characteristics of quail meat has resulted in growing interest of the consumers (Genchev et al., 2008).

Antibiotics are generally used in poultry industry as feed additive for the control of pathogenic microorganisms and to improve feed efficiency and growth (Islam et al., 2008; Sultan et al., 2015). Moreover, the use of antibiotics in poultry has been banned in many countries because of its residual effects and development of bacterial resistance. Moreover, the antimicrobial resistance of antibiotic has become a global concern. So alternatives to antibiotics are necessary and one of the possible alternatives is organic acids (Hyden, 2000; Sultan et al., 2015). Treating drinking water of poultry farms has been advocated to improve the health, performance and well being of the birds (Sultan et al., 2015). One such alternative is organic acid. They are generally considered as safe and play a significant role in increasing profitability in poultry production.

Organic acids such as proponic acids, formic acids, citric acids increase protein and amino acids digestibility and gastric proteolysis (Haque et al., 2009; Sultan et al., 2014 and 2015). Organic acids increase digestion and absorption of the nutrients (Patten and Walddroup, 1988; Skinner et al., 1991; Haque et al., 2009). Organic acids reduce lethal bacteria metabolites for example amines and ammonia and increase feed proficiency and growth rate (Samanta et al., 2010). These acids inhibit intestinal bacteria growth and struggle for host feed nutrients. Organic acids help in stimulating/regulating gut microbial flora, endogenous enzymes, and maintain animal health. Organic acids change the pH of alimentary canal which leads to reduce pathogenic burden. Organic acids remain undissociated and after passing through bacterial cell split into hydrogen ion and RCOO-ions that disrupt protein synthesis and normal cell function.

The targeted microbes multiply less efficiently and reduce their number in the digestive tract (Luckstadt et al., 2004; Freitag, 2007; Luckstadt, 2008; Sultan et al., 2015).

Keeping in view the above mentioned properties, in this study, a mixture of organic acids including lactic acid, citric acid and phosphoric acid was used in quails to study the effect on overall performance of Japanese quails and economics.


A total of 300, day-old quails were obtained from market and adapted for one week. All the experimental quails were randomly distributed into 5 groups as OA-0 (control), OA-0.5 (0.5 ml/l), OA-1 (I ml/l), OA-1.5(1.5 ml/l) and OA-2 (2 ml/l). Each group was replicated three times. The acidic mixture was composed of citric acid 80 g, lactic acid 52 g, phosphorus 92 g and cupper sulphate 10 g/ litter. The quails were reared in an open-sided shed in pens. Similar feeding, drinking and other equipments were provided. The feed composition is given in Table I. The experiment lasted for 42 days. The level of crude protein and metaboliazalbe energy were 22% and 2960 kcal/kg, respectively, to meet or exceed the requirements of NRC (2001).

Table I.-Composition of basal diets.



Soybean meal###36.6

Vegetable oil###0.45


Dicalcium phosphate###1.3

DL Methionine###0.16


Vitamin + trace mineral premix###0.35


Calculated nutrient composition

Protein (%)###22%

Metabolizable energy, kcal/kg###2960

Feed intake was offered to each replicate on daily basis. Daily feed refused was subtracted from feed offered to calculate feed intake. Daily feed and water intake was used to work out weekly feed and water intake. Water consumption per replicate was calculated on daily basis. Weekly weight gain was also calculated for each week. Weight gain was recorded with the help of digital balance. Weekly weight gain was used to work out total weight gain per quail. Feed conversion ratio (FCR) was recorded at the end of experiment. Two randomly selected quails from each replicate were slaughtered at the end of experiment to work out dressing percentage. All internal organs including intestine, heart, liver, gizzard and kidneys were removed and dressed carcass was weighted. Dressing percentage was calculated by dividing dressed weight by live weight multiplied by 100 Visceral organs including liver and heart weight were determined at the end of experiment. Mortality was also recorded on daily basis.

The dead birds were dissected to determine the cause of mortality. Intestinal length was measured from duodenum to caecum after removing the contents. Feed cost per quail was calculated by adding feed cost plus organic acids. Gross return was determined on the basis of market price of quails during April, 2012 and net return per quail was calculated.

Data analysis

The data were analyzed through standard procedure of analysis of variance (ANOVA) using complete randomized design (CRD) as suggested by Steel and Torie (1981). Statistical package SAS (1998) was used to perform the above analysis on computer.


The research study showed that decreasing trend was found in feed intake with increasing level of organic acids. Feed intake was significantly low in OA-2 compared to the control (Table II).

Mean water consumption per chick is given in Table I. Water consumption was affected significantly (P<0.05) by organic acids supplementation. Water intake was decreased when level of organic acids was increased from 0 to 1ml/L of drinking water. However, water intake was increased when level of organic acids was increased to 1.5ml/L and was decreased when the level of organic acids was increased to 2ml/L drinking water.

Mean total weight gain is presented in Table II. Weight gain was significantly (P<0.05) high in OA-2. An increasing trend was found in weight gain with the increasing level of organic acids.

Table II.-Effect of organic acid blend (Aciflex(r)) on total feed intake (g), total water intake, and total weight gain of Japanese quail.

###Total feed###Total water###Total weight


###intake (g)###intake (ml)###gain 9g)

OA-0###690a+-9.58###1073.5a +- 68.92###139.9c +- 5.20

OA-0.5###579.5b +-20.49###916.2bc +- 44.25###142.1bc +- 1.53

OA-1###571.5b +-7.02###863c +- 45.77###143.2abc +- 1.41

OA-1.5###562.8bc +-10.36###972.4ab +- 43.33###154.3ab +- 5.94

OA-2###541.3c +-13.69###829c +- 34.02###155.9a +- 5.20

Mean FCR is shown in Table III. Feed conversion ratio was affected significantly (P<0.05) by organic acid supplementation. A decreasing drift was observed in FCR with the increasing level of organic acids. The best FCR was recorded in group OA-2, OA-1.5, followed by OA-1, OA-1.5 and was the highest (poor) in group OA-0, respectively.

The mean dressing percentage per chick is given in Table III. Dressing percentage was significantly affected (P<0.05) by organic acids supplementation. Dressing percentage was signficnatly high in group OA-2 Dressing percentage was the same in group OA-0.5 and OA-0.

Mean weight of liver and heart per chick is presented in Table III. Liver weight was significantly (P<0.05) high in OA-2. Mean heart weight per chick is revealed in Table II. Heart weight was not affected by using organic acid supplementation.

Mortality rate of quail was 20.00, 13.00, 11.7, 10.00 and 6.7% in group OA-0, OA-0.5, OA-1, OA-1.5 and OA-2 respectively (Table IV). Mortality rate was significantly (P0.05). Mean net return per quail is presented in Table V. Net return was significantly affected by organic acids supplementation. Net return was the highest in group OA-1.5 and OA-2 and was the least in the control group. Group OA-0.5 and OA-1 performed similarly.

Table V.-Effect of organic acid blend (Aciflex(r)) on feed cost (Rs.), gross return and net return in Japanese quail.

###Gross return###Net return

###Feed cost###(Rs.) per###(Rs.) per




OA-0###24.8a+- 0.35###50.9 +- 1.89###26.0c+- 1.56

OA-0.5###21.1b +- 0.74###51.7 +- 0.56###30.6b +- 0.43

OA-1###21.0b +- 0.27###52.1 +-0.52###31.1b +- 0.39

OA-1.5###20.9b +- 0.37###56.1 +- 2.16###35.2a +- 1.86

OA-2###20.3b +- 0.51###56.7 +- 1.89###36.4a +- 1.68


Organic acids increase the effect of proteolytic enzymes and improve protein digestibility (Samanta et al., 2010). Moreover, organic acids also decrease the pH in the intestines and ultimately enhance the performance of birds (Samanta et al., 2010). Findings of the current agreed with the findings of Mohamed and Bahnas (2009), who reported positive effect on feed utilization in response to malic acid supplementation. Samanta et al. (2010) reported significant reduction (P<0.05) in feed intake using organic acids. Results of the present trial are do not agree with the finding of Sacakli et al. (2006) who reported no change in feed intake by organic acid. The growth promoting effects of organic acids are accredited to their ability to control the growth of potential pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract of animals (Izat et al., 1990; Hadorn et al., 2001).

Organic acids enhance energy and protein digestibility by decreasing microbial completion to the host and nutrient by decreasing subclinical infection (Dibner and Buttin, 2002). The results of the present trial are justified by Chaveerach et al. (2004) who obtained positive effect of organic acids on poultry growth. Muhamed and Bahnas (2009) recorded higher body weight by supplementation of malic acid in Japanese quails. In addition, formic acid supplementation caused enhancement in weight gain of broilers (Patten and Waldroup, 1988). Similarly Skinner et al. (1991) found a significant improvement in body weight of male broilers fed different levels of fumaric acid. Organic acids have positive effect on poultry growth (Chaveerach et al., 2004). Organic acids decrease the population of E.coli and other pathogenic bacteria and improve poultry growth (Samanta et al., 2010). Chimote et al. (2009) obtained significant effect (P0.05) on FCR by organic acid.

In the present study, the higher dressing percentage may be due to the action of organic acid to enhance energy and protein digestibility by decreasing microbial load of the host (Dibner and Buttin, 2002). Mohamed and Bahnas (2009) obtained a positive effect on dressing percentage in response to organic acid in Japanese quails. Chimote et al. (2009) recoreded improved dressing percentage by using acidifiers in quails. Islam et al. (2008) reported improved effect on liver weight by acetic acid and citric acid in broilers. Similarly, the results are also supported by Abdel-Mageed (2012) who fed organic acids to Japanese quails and recorded significant effect on liver. Results of the study are contrary to Adil et al. (2010) who reported no effect of organic acids supplementation on liver weight. Cakir et al. (2008) reported non significant effect of liver weight by combined probiotic, antibiotic and organic acids in the diet of Japanese quails.

Results of the present study agreed with the findings of Sacakli et al. (2006) who reported no significant effect of organic acids supplementation on heart weight in quails. Similarly, results of the present study are also supported by Cakir et al. (2008) who reported non-significant effect on heart weight by combine supplementation of probiotic antibiotic and organic acid in quail. Present findings are contrasted by Mohamed and Bahnas (2009) on heart in Japanese quail.

Results of the current study are supported by the finding of Islam et al. (2008) who obtained reduced mortality in broiler chicks fed citric acid and acetic acid. Organic acids make the condition acidic that help the nutrients more available for absorption (Boling et al., 2001) and hence reduce the feed requirements of the birds. The lower feed cost in treated groups may be due to reduced feed intake. Reduced feed cost and higher gross return resulted in higher net return in treated groups. Our findings are in agreement to Muhammad and Bahnas (2009) who supplemented malic acid to low protein low energy diet and reported higher body weight gain price and economical efficiency in Japanese quails. Results of the present study are in contrast to Islam et al. (2008) who recorded higher feed cost and low gross return and net profit in broiler chicks fed citric acid and acetic acid.


It can be concluded from the present study that organic acids supplementation at the rate of 2ml/L of drinking water improved weight gain, feed efficiency, dressing percentage and liver weight in Japanese quails. It also decreased feed intake and water consumption. Organic acids supplementation at the level of 1-2ml/L of drinking water reduced mortality. Finally, lower feed cost and higher net return was obtained when organic acid was used at the rate of 1-2ml/L drinking water.


This study was supported by King Saud University, Deanship of Scientific Research, College of Food and Agriculture Sciences, Research centre.

Statement of conflict of interest

Authors have declared no conflict of interest.


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Author:Khan, Rifat Ullah; Chand, Naila; Ali, Akbar
Publication:Pakistan Journal of Zoology
Article Type:Report
Date:Dec 31, 2016
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