Effects of limiting feed access time and re - alimentation on performance of growing rabbits in a humid tropical environment
This experiment was carried out to study the effect of limiting feed access time on the performance of growing rabbit. Forty eighty (48) male rabbits of mixed breeds (Chinchilla x Dutch x California White) with an average weight of 600g. The rabbits were divided into 4 groups of 12 rabbits each after balancing for live weight. The rabbits were randomly assigned to four feed access times which serve as the treatments. These are: Treatment 1(3hrs), Treatment 2(6hrs), Treatment 3 (9hrs) and Treatment 4 (24). Each treatment had twelve individually caged rabbits serving as the replicates. The limiting of feed access time was carried out for four weeks and rabbits subsequently allowed unlimited feed access time for another three weeks during which data were collected on performance (feed intake and weight gain) and carcass characteristics of rabbits. Limiting feed access time had significant effect (P<0.05). Result showed that restriction had a significant effect on total feed intake, total weight gain (TWG), average daily weight gain (AWG), feed: gain, average protein intake and protein efficiency. The total feed intake and average daily feed intake of Rabbits on Treatments 1, 2 and 3 were not significantly different (P > 0.05) from each other but were significantly different (P < 0.05) from the rabbits on Treatment 4. The total and average weight gain of rabbits on treatment 4 was observed to be significantly higher than those of other treatments while the TWG and AWG of rabbits on treatment 3 were comparable to that of Treatment 2 but significantly higher than that of treatment 1. Rabbits on Treatment 3 had the lowest (best) Feed: Gain ratio which was significantly different from values obtained for rabbits on Treatments 1, 2 and 4. During re-alimentation, similar compensatory growth occurred in all restricted re-alimented groups but the rabbits in treatment 3 had the highest compensatory growth followed by treatment 2 and treatment 1 respectively. The result of this study indicates that limiting feed access time is a viable model for reducing feed intake and improving feed conversion of rabbits.
Keywords: Feed access-time, re-alimentation, rabbit, performance