Reproductive Performance Of Rabbit Does Fed Diets Containing Gliricidia Leaf Meal From Conception Through Weaning Of Kits
Twenty-four crossbred does were used to study the effect of dietary inclusion of gliricidia leaf meal (GLM) at 0, 5, 10 and 15% levels (CTL, GLY5, GLY10, GLY15,) respectively on the reproductive performance of does during gestation and lactation. Feeding of experimental diets commenced a day after mating and continued till 6 weeks post partum (weaning). The results obtained indicate that the inclusion of GLM in the diets, especially at 15% level (GLY15) caused lowered (P< 0.05) feed intakes and consequently, body weights of kits at different stages of their development. Feed intakes during gestation were, 94.88 ±6.38g/d. I06±7.1g/d, I04±3.7g/d and 91.69±7.82g/d for the CTL, GLY5, GLY10 and GLY15 groups respectively. Low feed intake during lactation was associated with poor milk production by does as reflected in the litter weights at 28 d. Feed intake during lactation ranged from 167.3±8.5g/d for the GLY15 group to 212.1 ±11.6g/d for the CTL group. Litter sizes at birth and weaning were not affected (P > 0.05) by feeding the GLM diets. Litter sizes at birth were 5.17±0.41. 5.33 ±0.52, 5.17±0.75 and 5.00±0.63 for the CTL, GLY5, GLY10 and GLY15 groups respectively. Corresponding values for litter sizes at weaning for the groups were 4.83±0.41, 4.83±0.41, 5.00±0.63 and 4.50±0.53 respectively. The relationship between litter size at weaning and sex ratio was positive (r= 0.73, P < 0.01), though sex ratio was uniform ( P > 0.05) for all the groups. Observations made in this study indicate that though the animals got used to the GLM diets even at 15% level of inclusion, the intake remained low, implying that there may also be utilization problems associated with gliricidia leaves.
Keywords: Rabbits, gliricidia, femal reproduction