Response of weaner rabbits to diets containing graded levels of processed velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens)
An 8-week study was conducted to investigate the effect of feeding graded levels of cooked velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens) on growth performance and blood of weaner rabbits. 24, 6 week-old hybrid (Chinchilla x New Zealand white) weaner rabbits with initial average weight of 0.52 kg were housed in a hutch which accommodated two rabbits, partitioned with metallic sheets and wire mesh, and fitted with metallic trays. The rabbits were divided into four treatment groups of six rabbits each and randomly assigned to four diets containing 0 (control), 10, 20 and 30% cooked Mucuna seed meal (MSM) processed by boiling for 60 min starting from the boiling point of water, dried and grounded with hammer mill. Measurements taken were average daily weight gain, final live weight, feed and protein intake, feed conversion ratio (FCR), protein efficiency ratio (PER), packed cell volume (PCV), haemoglobin concentration (Hb), red blood cell count (RBC), etc. The results showed that there were no significant (P > 0.05) differences among the treatments in feed intake, protein intake, daily weight gain, FCR and PER. There were significant (P < 0.05) differences among treatments in PCV, Hb and mean cell volume (MCV). Rabbits fed 0, 20 and 30% MSM diets had significantly (P < 0.05) higher PCV and Hb than rabbits fed 10% MSM diet. The MCV of rabbits fed 30% MSM diet was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than that of rabbits fed 20% MSM diet. There were no significant (P > 0.05) differences among the treatments RBC, mean cell haemoglobin (MCH) and mean cell haemoglobin concentration (MCHC). There were significant (P < 0.05) differences among the treatments in cost of daily feed intake and feed cost per kg weight gain. The cost of daily feed intake of rabbits on 20 and 30% MSM diets were significantly (P < 0.05) lower than those of rabbits on 0 and 10% MSM diets. Feed cost per kg weight gain of rabbits fed 30% MSM diet was significantly (P<0.05) lower than that of rabbits on other dietary treatments. The results obtained in this study revealed that up to 30% of the cooked MSM can be included in the diets of weaner rabbits without any deleterious effect on rabbit performance.
Key words: Processed Mucuna seed meal, diets, rabbits, response.