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Ruminant Nutrition and Forage Utilization
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2005;18(10): 1421-1424.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2005.1421    Published online December 1, 2005.
Performance of Suckling Rabbits Fed a Low Fibre Concentrate
Giovanni Piccolo, Fulvia Bovera, Carmelo Di Meo, Maria Pia Gazaneo, Antonino Nizza
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of two diets different in crude fibre content and ingredients on performance and on caecal characteristics of rabbits around weaning. Thirty litters from thirty New Zealand White does were divided at Day 18 in two groups fed, respectively, a low fibre concentrate (LFC, consisting mainly of soybean meal, delactated whey, barley) from Day 18-28 followed by a creep feed (CF, consisting mainly in alfalfa meal, barley and wheat bran) from Day 29-32, and a CF from Day 18-32. After weaning (32 days) both groups were fed the CF ad libitum for two weeks. During the pre-weaning period, mortality, milk intake and solid feed intake (from Day 20) were recorded daily, while the live weight of kits was recorded twice, at 18 and 32 days. At day 28, one rabbit/litter was slaughtered in order to obtain data on caecal content characteristics. After weaning, the rabbits were located in collective cages, feeding ad libitum CF; feed intake, live weight and mortality were recorded weekly for two weeks. During the preweaning period, there were no differences between the groups in milk and solid feed intake and, by consequence, in live weight at weaning; instead, the mortality was higher (12.5 vs 4.5%) for the group (A) that changed diet at 28 days. Group A showed also a higher caecal pH (6.12 vs. 5.72), propionate to butyrate ratio (0.73 vs. 0.46), ammonia content (9.3 vs. 7.1 mmol/l), but a lower total volatile fatty acid content (66.8 vs. 82.1 mmol/l) than B Group, probably due to the dried milk whey in the concentrate. After weaning, there were no significant differences between the two groups. The authors concluded that the use of a low fibre concentrate for suckling rabbits is not recommended.
Keywords: Low Fibre Concentrate; Solid Feed Intake; Weaning Rabbit

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