Performance characteristics of rabbits fed some wild evergreen forages
A ten-week trial was conducted to examine the effect of feeding four wild forages (Daniella oliveri, Sarcopcephalus latifolia, Vitex doniana and Ficus thoningii) on the performance characteristics of rabbits; the four forages constituted treatments 1 – 4, respectively. Twenty four unsexed rabbits of mixed breeds aged, between four and five weeks with average weight of 514g were used for the study. The animals were randomly allotted to the four treatments, each with three replicates of two rabbits per replicates. The parameters measured were, feed intake, weight gain, feed conversion ratio, carcass parts and organs weights. The results of the proximate composition especially crude protein (CP) and crude fibre (CF) were within the ranges of 15-30% CP and 20-45% CF respectively as recommended for optimum performance of rabbits. The results of the performance generally showed positive growth response as all the forages had potentials for supporting rabbit growth. The live weight gain and feed intake of experimental rabbits were significantly different (P<0.05). However, feed conversion ratio was not significantly (p>0.05) affected by the treatments. No health hazards of any nature were encountered throughout the experiment which may imply that these forages apart from supporting growth may also be medicinal. From the results, the best of the forages, viewed from the performance perspective, appears to be Ficus thoningi, which suggests that it may have supplied adequate nutrients that may be lacking in grassland pastures in the dry season, it is therefore recommended for feeding of growing rabbits.
Keywords: wild forages, rabbits, performance characteristics,