Performance of Growing Rabbits Fed Diets Containing Graded Levels of Gmelina (Gmelina arborea) Fruit Pulp Meal
The study involved the recycling of gmelina fruit pulp to animal feed to reduce environmental pollution by evaluating the feed intake and body weight changes of rabbits fed diets incorporated with Ripe Gmelina Fruit Pulp (RGFP) at 0, 25, 50, 75 and 100% in replacement of maize as groups I, II, III, IV and V, respectively. Sixty (60) rabbits in five groups of 12 animals each were used for the eight-week study in completely randomized design experiment. Initial weight, final weight, weight gain, feed intake (concentrate + forage), concentrate intake and forage intake ranged from 575–575.02g, 1605–1900g, 1029.98–1324.99g, 8130–7569.85g, 5711.33–1177.11g, 6392.74–2418.67g, respectively. All these parameters were significantly affected (p<0.05) by inclusion of RGFP except initial weight. Feed conversion ratio (FCR), water intake (ml), water–feed ratio and protein efficiency ratio ranged from 7.35–6.14, 278.34–203.36, 0.034–0.027 and 0.8–0.53, respectively. These parameters were also significantly affected (p<0.05) by inclusion of RGFP in diets except water–feed ratio and protein efficiency ratio. Weight gain, total feed intake (concentrate + forage), concentrate intake and water intake of rabbits fed 0% RGFP were the highest (p<0.05) while the 100% RGFP group recorded the least (p<0.05). Weight gain and total feed intake of 0% RGFP group was similar to those of groups 25%, and 50%. The 100% RGFP fed rabbits had the highest (p<0.05) forage intake but least (p<0.05) FCR while 0% RGFP fed group had the least (p<0.05) forage intake and highest (p<0.05) FCR. Weight gain, total feed intake (concentrate + forage), concentrate intake and water intake significantly (p<0.05) decreased as RGFP increased while FCR and forage intake increased significantly (p<0.05) as RGFP increased. This study suggests that RGFP could replace up to 50% of maize, beyond which the animals start losing weight.
Keywords: Hindgut fermenter, Gmelina fruit waste, rabbit nutrition, recycling