Nutritive Value of Dolichos Lablab (Lablab purpureus CV. Rongai) Forage cut at Different Stages of Growth on Performance of Weaned Rabbits.
The study examined the effect of cutting lablab forage at different stages of growth (6, 12, 18 and 24 weeks) on the proximate composition, growth performance, nutrient digestibility and carcass characteristics of weaned rabbits. Lablab forage cut at different stages of growth were analyzed for dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), crude fibre (CF), ether extract (EE), ash and nitrogen free extract (FE). Thirty (30) weaned rabbits with an initial weight of 541.67g were randomly allotted to five dietary treatments of six (6) rabbits per treatment in a completely randomized design. Diet I was the control (without lablab forage). Diet 2, 3, 4, and 5 contained lablab forage cut at 6, 12, 18 and 24 weeks, post germination, respectively. The diets were formulated to be isonitrogenous (18% CP). Measurements taken included live weight, feed intake, hematological parameters, carcass and organ characteristics. Weight gain, feed coversion ratio, cost per gain and nutrient digesbility coefficient were calculated. There were significant (P<0.05) differences in all the proximate parameters measured. The dry matter and crude fibre values showed steady increase as the forage plant advanced in age while the crude protein values decreased significantly (P<0.05) as the plant aged. Rabbits fed lablab forage cut at 12 weeks of age post germination performed significantly (P<0.05) better than those on other dietary treatments. Except for nitrogen free extract, apparent nutrient digestibilities were significantly (P<0.05) different across the dietary treatments. The haematological indices measured were within the normal range established for healthy rabbits. There were significant (P<0.05) differences in all the carcass parameter measured except for intestinal length, weight of the stomach and head. It was concluded that lablab purpureus forage should be harvested at 12 weeks of age post germination for optimum performance and nutrient utilization in weaned rabbits.
Keywords: Lablab, forage, performance, growth, rabbits.
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