Effect of sampling time on haematological characteristics of weaner rabbits fed diets containing differently processed Crotalaria retusa leaves
Three (3) processing methods; shade drying, oven drying and ensiling were used to investigate the effects of processing methods on the haematological profile in rabbits. Twenty four (24) weaner rabbits of mixed breeds with an average weight of 658.12g were randomly allocated to four (4) dietary treatments with six (6) rabbits per treatment in a Completely Randomized Design experiment. The leaves of Crotalaria retusa were harvested fresh and divided into three portions of 4kg each. The first portion was ensiled in a polyethene bag for 14 days, the second portion was oven dried at 60o C for six (6) hours while the third portion was shade dried for three (3) days and then included in the experiment at 5% across all treatments except diet the control (which contained 0% C. retusa leaves). The experimental diets and clean drinking water were supplied to the rabbits ad libitum. Blood samples were taken at the commencement of the experiment (week 0), and subsequently at the fourth and eighth week respectively. Processing methods affected the proximate composition of the experimental diets. The ensiled Crotalaria retusa leaves recorded the highest Crude protein content (17.86%) and nitrogen free extract (57.52%). The Blood parameters measured were significantly (P<0.05) influenced by processing methods at different sampling time. Packed Cell Volume (PCV) of blood sampled at 4 and 8weeks were generally higher in rabbits fed ensiled C. retusa leaves diets. Total protein (TP) were generally higher in rabbits fed ensiled C. retusa leaves diets at all sampling time. Based on these results, growing rabbits could tolerate up to 5% processed Crotolaria retusa leaves without adverse effects on their haematological parameters.
Key words: Crotalaria retusa, Haematology, Processing methods, sampling time, Weaner Rabbits.
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