Growth performance, carcass characteristics, haematology and serum biochemistry of rabbit bucks fed diets containing graded levels of neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf meal
Twenty-four (24) rabbit bucks of mixed breeds, with initial average live weight of 1975g were used to investigate the effect of Neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf meal (NLM) on the growth performance, blood profiles and carcass characteristics of rabbit bucks in a completely randomized design. The animals were randomly allocated into four (4) dietary treatments and replicated three (3) times with two (2) rabbits per replicate. The rabbits were fed diets containing 0%, 2.5%, 5.0%, and 7.5% Neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf meal (NLM). The experimental diets and clean drinking water were supplied ad-libitum throughout the experimental periods of 6 weeks. Body weight gain, daily feed intake, feed efficiency, haematological parameters (packed cell volume, haemoglobin, red blood cell, white blood cell, lymphocyte, monocyte, neutrophil, eosinophil, basophil, Mean corpuscular haemoglobin, Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration, Mean corpuscular volume), serum biochemical indices (total protein, albumin, globulin, glucose, cholesterol, creatinine, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase) and carcass characteristics were measured and data generated were subjected to one-way analysis of variance. No significant (p>0.05) influence of NLM was observed on the growth performance parameters measured in this study. Haemoglobin (Hb), red blood cell (RBC) count of rabbit bucks on T2 (2.5% NLM) and white blood cell (WBC) of rabbits on T3 (5% NLM) were significantly (p<0.05) reduced (12.07g/dl, 6.20×1012/L and 4.97×103/L, respectively). The results obtained on the serum component showed no significant (P>0.05) difference in most of the parameters measured except Alkaline phosphatase (ALP). ALP significantly (p<0.05) reduced with increase NLM inclusion such that rabbits on control diet had the highest value (44.00U/L) while those on 7.5% NLM recorded the least value (33.33U/L); all these values were still within the recommended range (10 – 96 U/L) for healthy rabbits. The carcass characteristics also showed significant differences (P<0.05) among treatments for head, forelimb and neck. From these results, it was concluded that inclusion of Neem leaf meal in the diet of rabbit bucks up to 7.5% had no major adverse effect (P>0.05) on the haematological parameters, serum biochemical indices and some carcass characteristics.
Key Words: Rabbit bucks, Neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf meal, blood, carcass
Copy right of all published material rests with the Nigerian Journal of Animal Science.