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A total of 32 weaned rabbits (56 days old; 586 ± 60.31g body weight) were selected to investigate the effect of dietary growth promoters on the growth performance, nutrient digestibility and carcass characteristics of rabbits. The rabbits were randomly assigned to four dietary treatments (n = 8) including a basal diet (control), diet 2 (prebiotics: Biotronic®, 4kg/ton), diet 3 (probiotics: Biovet®-YC 500g/ton) and diet 4 (Symbiotic: Biotronic®, 4kg/ton and Biovet®-YC, 500g/ton) in a 12-week feeding trial. Body weight (BW), daily weight gain (DWG), daily feed intake (DFI) and feed conversion ratio (FCR) of individual rabbits were monitored throughout the experimental period. Feed and faecal samples were collected and analyzed for nutrient digestibility at the last week of the experiment. Five rabbits per treatment were euthanized for carcass characteristics at the end of the feeding trial. The supplementation of prebiotics and symbiotics to rabbit diets significantly (P<0.05) increased the FBW, DWG and FCR compared to probiotic diet and the control. However, the daily feed intake was not significantly affected among the dietary treatments. The nutrient digestibility of the rabbits was significantly (P<0.05) influenced by the dietary treatments. There were significant (P<0.05) differences in the dry matter, crude protein, crude fibre, ash, ether extract, and nitrogen free extracts among the dietary treatments. The addition of growth promoting additives had no significant effect on the carcass characteristics measured except the right arms of the experimental rabbits. The results suggest that the prebiotic and symbiotic supplementation can be alternated as natural growth promoter in antibiotic free rabbit diets. This will enhance growth performance by increasing nutrient digestibility of rabbits.
Key words: Prebiotics, Probiotics, Symbiotics, Rabbits, Performance, Digestibility.