Blood Biochemical Profile and Carcass Characteristics of Weaner Rabbits Fed Varying Inclusion Levels of Gamba Grass (Andropogon gayanus Kunth.) Forage
A study was conducted to investigate the effect of varying inclusion levels of Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus Kunth) forage on haematological, blood biochemical and carcass characteristics of weaner rabbits. A total of 20 male rabbits of mixed breeds with an average initial weight of 450g were randomly assigned into four dietary treatments containing varying inclusion levels of gamba grass forage (0, 5, 10 and 15%). There were four rabbits per treatment, each serving as a replicate in a completely randomized design. Blood samples were collected at the end of eight (8) week feeding period before the carcass analysis.. Results indicated that there were significant (P<0.05) increasing trend in the haematological and blood biochemical parameters measured. There were 51% and 55% increases (P<0.05) in total protein (8.53 vs. 5.65g/dl) and calcium ions (2.65 vs. 1.18mmol/dl) in rabbits fed diet containing 15% inclusion level of gamba grass forage compared to the control. However, there were 10% and 17% decreases (P<0.05) in white blood cells (4.92 vs. 4.43%) and alkaline phosphate (89.33 vs. 76.33IU/dl) in rabbits fed the control diet than those fed diet containing 15% inclusion level of gamba grass. Also, there were 13% and 49% increase (P<0.05) in dressing percentage (54.80 vs. 48.60%) and weight of thigh (16.95 vs. 11.35%) in rabbits fed diet containing 15% inclusion level of gamba grass forage compared to the control. However, length of small intestine and weights of heart, head, stomach and small intestines were similar (P>0.05) across the treatments, respectively. It was concluded that gamba grass forage can be included up to 15% in the diet of weaner rabbits, without adverse effect on haematological, biochemical profile and carcass characteristics of the rabbits in Northern Guinea savanna of Nigeria. Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus Kunth) forage can be included in the diets of weaner rabbits to reduce cost of production.
Keywords: Blood, competition, carcass, feed, gamba, Nigeria, rabbit
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