Effect of Concentrate Feed Restriction with ad libitum Forage Feeding on Performance and Carcass Yield of Growing Rabbits
Effect of concentrate feed restriction with ad libitum forage (Tridax procumbens) feeding on performance, carcass yield and relative organ weights were investigated in weaner rabbits in a humid tropical environment of Nigeria. Thirty-six growing rabbits of mixed breed (Chinchilla x Dutch x California White) and sexes with an average weight of 600 g were assigned to three feeding regime in a completely randomized design. The study lasted 8 weeks. The three feeding regime were: (A) ad libitum concentrate feeding + ad libitum forage feeding (control), (B) skip-aday concentrate feeding per week + ad libitum forage feeding and (C) skip-2-days concentrate feeding per week + ad libitum forage feeding. The forage used was air-dried Tridax procumbens. Drinking water was supplied free-choice throughout the duration of the experiment. Each treatment group was replicated six times with two rabbits housed in the same cage serving as replicate. Weight gain (Total and Average daily), final body weight, feed intake (Total and Average daily) and feed: gain ratio of rabbits were not significantly (P>0.05) different among the treatment groups. Although feed intake was not different among the three treatments, however concentrate intake (Total and average daily), forage intake (total and average daily) as well as percentage concentrate and forage in daily feed intake were significantly (P<0.05) influenced by treatments. Total concentrate intake was significantly higher with rabbits in treatment A (ad libitum feeding) compared with rabbits in treatment B, which was also significantly (P<0.05) higher than the intake of rabbits in treatment C. Rabbits fed ad libitum consumed 10.75 and 25.94% more concentrates than rabbits fed skip-a-day and skip-two-days per week concentrate. Daily concentrate intake reduced from 33.35 g in treatment A to 29.76 g and 24.69 g in treatment B and C respectively. The daily forage intake however increased with severity of concentrate restriction, the trend being C > B > A. The Concentrate percentage of daily feed intake reduced with increased severity of concentrate restriction while that of forage increased with concentrate restriction from 56.15% in ad libitum concentrate fed group to the highest amount of 68.45% in rabbits on skip-two-days of concentrate feeding per week. Dressing percentage and retail cuts were not significantly (P>0.05) affected by feeding regime. Similarly the internal organs (livers, kidneys, lungs and hearts) were not affected by the treatments (P>0.05). The results obtained from this study showed that rabbits could be subjected to two days skipping of concentrate feed per week with ad libitum forage feeding without compromising performance and carcass quality characteristic.
Keywords: Feeding regime, skip-a-day, skip-two-days, forage, rabbits and performance.
Copy right of all published material rests with the Nigerian Journal of Animal Science.