Effects of the dietary inclusion of varying levels of paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) leaf meal on growth performance, nutrients digestibility and carcass characteristics of grower rabbits
A ten-week feeding trial was conducted using 25 grower rabbits in a completely randomised design to evaluate effects of the inclusion of varying levels of paper mulberry leaf meal (PMLM) on growth performance, nutrients digestibility and carcass characteristics. The rabbits were of mixed breeds and sexes, aged 8 weeks and weighing between 1000 – 1350 g. PMLM was incorporated into five diets designated T0, T1, T2, T3 and T4 at 0, 5, 10, 15 and 20 % levels of inclusion. Feed intake and live weight changes were monitored throughout the study. A digestibility study was carried out during the sixth week. At the end of the feeding trial, two rabbits per treatment were randomly selected and humanely slaughtered. Hot carcass weight, blood weight, dressed weight, weights of gastrointestinal tract, internal organs and caecum were taken. Dressing percentage was determined by dividing the hot dressed carcass weight by the slaughter weight and multiplied by hundred. Existing market prices for feed ingredients were used for the economic appraisal of feeds. Results did not show significant differences (p>0.05) in live weight changes. However, feed cost/kg and feed cost/kg gain declined with increase in level of PMLM. Digestibility coefficients were similar for all nutrients across the treatments except for ash which improved with increase in level of PMLM. PMLM inclusion also improved dressing percentage without deleterious effects on internal organs. It was concluded that dietary inclusion of PMLM up to 20 % could be used in rabbits to reduce feed cost/kg gain.