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The effect of dietary metabolizable energy concentration upon the pre- and post-weaning performance of growing rabbits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2010

Catherine Butcher
Affiliation:
Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 2AT
M. J. Bryant
Affiliation:
Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 2AT
E. Owen
Affiliation:
Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Reading RG6 2AT
I. Leach
Affiliation:
Tropical Products Institute, 56–62 Grays Inn Road, London WC1
D. H. Machin
Affiliation:
Tropical Products Institute, 56–62 Grays Inn Road, London WC1
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Abstract

Twenty-five Californian does were mated and given pelleted diets of either 8(LE) or 10(HE) MJ/kg dry matter (ruminant metabolizable energy values) throughout gestation and lactation. Litter sizes were adjusted to six offspring per doe. Milk yield was estimated from the weight differences of the litters before and after suckling, when the opportunity for nursing was confined to once daily. The young rabbits were allowed access to either the LE or HE diets from 18 days of age. Weaning took place at 32 days of age when four rabbits from each doe grouP × pre-weaning diet were slaughtered. Diet had no effect on litter size or birth weight, but does on the LE diet had lower live weights post partum (P < 0·05). Dry-matter consumption by the does on the LE diet was greater than for the HE diet (P < 0·05) both during gestation and lactation, but calculated metabolizable energy intakes were lower during lactation. There were no statistically significant differences between treatments for milk yield or live-weight gain to weaning and dry-matter intakes of the young at weaning, but daily live-weight gain from fostering to 18 days of age was greater for litters of does fed the HE rather than the LE diet (P < 0·05). There were no statistically significant differences between diets for carcass traits at weaning.

After weaning, 32 rabbits were given either the LE or HE diet until 2 kg live weight when they were slaughtered. A post-weaning × pre-weaning diet interaction (P < 0·05) occurred for live weights of the rabbits at the start of the post-weaning trial (i.e. after a 10-day adaptation period) with LE: LE rabbits being lighter than other rabbits as a results of poor live-weight gains during the adaptation period. Live-weight gains to slaughter were greater for the pre-weaning LE diet (P < 0·05) and the post-weaning HE diet (P < 0·01), although dry-matter intakes of the HE diet were less (P < 0·05). Rabbits on the LE diet had greater empty gut weights (P < 0·05) and lighter livers (P < 0·05) at slaughter.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British Society of Animal Science 1983

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References

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