Effect of diets on growth, digestibility, carcass and meat quality characteristics of four rabbit breeds

Al-Dobaib, S.N.

Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 17(1): 83-93


ISSN/ISBN: 1319-562X
PMID: 23961062
DOI: 10.1016/j.sjbs.2009.12.012
Accession: 052802969

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The current study was conducted to evaluate three diets using four rabbit breeds. A total of 320 male weaned rabbits representing four breeds named V-line, Saudi-1, Saudi-2 and Saudi-3 were randomly distributed into three comparable dietary treatments. Three levels of indigenous feedstuffs (IFS) of 42.5%, 65% or 87.5% (alfalfa hay, barley and wheat bran) were substituted for the same levels of non-indigenous feedstuffs in the diet (corn grain, soybean, molasses, and limestone) to form three diets named D1, D2 and D3, respectively. These dietary treatments were used to evaluate post-weaning growth performance, feed intake, feed conversion, carcass and lean composition, and nutrients digestibility in four rabbit breeds. Partial replacement of IFS with non-indigenous feedstuffs attained significant increase in growth performance. The diet containing 87.5% IFS led to significant increase in daily weight gains by 8.4, 4.0, 8.1, 6.2 and 6.7 g at age intervals of 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 10-11 and 11-12 weeks compared to the control diet, respectively. The diet containing 87.5% IFS showed a significant reduction in feed conversion ratio compared to control diet during the experimental periods. The diet containing 65% IFS showed significant increases in pre-slaughter weight (112 g) and hot carcass weight (89 g), while dressing percent, offal weight and percent, and non-carcass weights and percentages (head, fur, legs + tail, viscera) were not significantly different. The diet containing 87.5% IFS gave an increase of 1.1%, 6.4%, 8.8%, 17.9%, 7.4%, and 19.6% in digestibility coefficients of organic matter (OM), crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fibre (NFD), acid detergent fiber (ADF), hemi-cellulose (HC) and cellulose (C) compared to control diet, respectively. Feed intakes were moderate and ranged from 69 to 124 g for V-line, 77 to 128 g for Saudi-1, 79 to 130 g for Saudi-2, and 76 to 119 g for Saudi-3 along with moderate ratios of feed conversion ranging from 2.65 to 3.80, 2.45 to 3.90, 2.46 to 3.79 and 2.63 to 3.65, respectively. Pre-slaughter weight, hot carcass weight, and offal weight were in favour of Saudi-2 rabbits compared to the other groups. Both Saudi-1 and Saudi-2 rabbits were slightly higher than Saudi-3 in weights and percentages of head, fur, viscera and legs + tail. Lean and bone weights and percentages and meat to bone ratio in Saudi-2 carcasses were slightly higher than those recorded in the other groups, while moisture, DM, CP, EE and ash contents in the lean have shown little differences between groups. Rabbits of Saudi-1 were ranked the first in digestibility coefficients of OM, CP, NDF, ADF, HC, C and cell count compared to other groups. Rabbits of Saudi-2 fed diet containing 87.5% IFS recorded the heaviest body weights and gains since this class showed considerable deviations in body weights of 345, 341, 269, 307, 321, 345 and 347 g at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 weeks of age, respectively, in comparison with the lightest class. Both Saudi-2 and Saudi-3 rabbits fed the diet containing 87.5% IFS had favourable estimates of feed conversions ranging from 2.1 to 3.4, while rabbits of Saudi-1 fed the diet containing 87.5% IFS recorded the best digestibility coefficients.