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Poultry production in Vietnam is based on agricultural production, and accounts for 19% of the total livestock production, being second only to pig production (Vang et al., 2000). Most chickens are kept by small farmer households, who typically raise 10 - 12 birds by scavenging, supplemented by agricultural by-products. The meat and eggs are either for home consumption, thus improving the daily diet directly, or for sale. However, the efficiency of chicken production is low mainly because of the limited protein content in poultry diets at the level of small-scale farmers (Dong et al., 1994).
The use of duckweed as poultry feed has been recognized by many authors (Haustein et al., 1987, 1990; Islam et al., 1997; Rodriguez et al., 1997, Leng, 1999; Samnang, 1999). Duckweed has a high crude protein content and a well-balanced amino acid profile and is also a good source of vitamins and minerals for livestock (Landolt et al., 1987; Men et al., 2001). Even though the moisture content of duckweed can be the first limiting factor for chickens, duckweed can play important role in poultry feeding.
Therefore, the present study was carried out to evaluate the effects of level of dietary protein and duckweed on daily feed intakes and growth rate of chicks and to determine the optimum level of soybean meal in diets for growing local chickens and laying hens when duckweed is available ad-libitum.