Growth performance, haematology and cost benefit of growing rabbits reared on different feed access times and restriction durations
Sixty growing rabbits of mixed breeds and sexes were used for 10 weeks in a 4 x 3 factorial experimental design to test for the effect of different feed access times (2, 4, 6 and 24 h) and different restriction durations (2, 4 and 6 wk) on the performance, haematological parameters and cost benefits of growing rabbits. Data obtained were subject to a 2–way analysis of variance. Results showed significantly higher (p<0.05) final weight in rabbits maintained on 24-h feed access time (1875.4g), 6 h feed access time for 2-wk restriction duration (1822.0g), 6-h feed access time for 4-wk restriction duration (1821.0g) and 4 h-feed access time for 2-wk restriction duration (1828.0g). Growing rabbits on 24-h feed access time (control) recorded a higher (p<0.05) feed intake when compared with other treatments. Feed conversion ratio and mortality were not significantly affected (p>0.05) across the feed access time and restriction duration. White blood cell was higher in growing rabbits on 2-h feed access time for 6 wk duration of restriction while all other parameters measured for haematology were not significantly affected by the feed access time and restriction duration. Total cost of feed consumed was highest in growing rabbits maintained on 24-h feed access time. Cost of feed per kg weight gain was not significantly influenced across the feed access times and the restriction durations. It was concluded that for a reduced cost of feeding without an adverse effect on the performance and haematological profile, growing rabbits should be raised on not less than 4-h feed access time for 2-wk restriction duration.
Keywords: Feed access time, feed restriction, haematology and cost