South African Journal of Animal Science
On-line version ISSN 2221-4062
Print version ISSN 0375-1589
This study was conducted to determine the effect on semen quality traits of supplementing the diets of Iraqi drakes with L-carnitine. Forty eight male Iraqi ducks, 30 weeks old, were randomly allocated to four treatments with 12 drakes per treatment group, replicated three times, with four drakes per replicate. The treatment groups consisted of birds fed a diet free of L-carnitine (T1, control group); birds fed a diet containing 50 mg L-carnitine/kg diet (T2); birds fed a diet containing 100 mg L-carnitine/kg diet (T3); and birds fed a diet containing 150 mg L-carnitine/kg diet. The drakes were fed the experimental diets only during the experimental period, which lasted three months. The semen quality traits that were investigated were ejaculate volume, mass and individual motility of spermatozoa, spermatocrit, spermatozoa concentration, percentages of dead and abnormal spermatozoa and acrosomal abnormalities. Supplementing the diet of drakes with L-carnitine at the levels of 50 - 150 mg/kg diet significantly increased ejaculate volume, spermatocrit, mass and individual motility of spermatozoa, and concentration of spermatozoa, while percentages of dead and abnormal spermatozoa and acrosomal abnormalities were decreased. However, T4 (150 mg L-carnitine/kg diet) recorded the best results in relation to all semen quality traits included in this study. Dietary supplementation with L-carnitine improved the semen quality of local drakes; therefore L-carnitine can be used as an efficient feed additive to improve the reproductive performance of male ducks.
Keywords : Carnitine; ducks; reproductive performance.