|Abstract or Summary
- An extensive literature review into the causes and
controls of diarrhea was followed by three weanling rabbit
performance trials to examine the influence of dietary
modifications on diarrhea in the rabbit.
In the first set of experiments, the ion exchangers
clinoptilolite (0, 1.5 and 3.0%) and sodium bentonite (0 and
5.0%) were added to a low fiber (20% alfalfa) and high fiber
(54% alfalfa) diet to examine performance and mortality of
weanling rabbits. Gains, intakes, feed efficiencies and
mortalities did not differ between clinoptilolite or
bentonite levels. For both alfalfa levels, clinoptilolite
added at 3.0% reduced mortality by 50% over the controls.
Bentonite addition slightly depressed gains and intake with
an increase in mortality. Rabbits preferred the non-bentonite
diets 2:1 for the low fiber and 5:1 for the high
fiber diets in a two choice feed preference test.
In the second set of experiments, the effects of dietary alfalfa level and supplementation with copper sulfate (Cu)
or oxytetracycline (TM-10) on the growth rate, feed
conversion, mortality and tissue accumulation of Cu were
examined. The inclusion of Cu with or without TM-10 had no
effect on gains, feed efficiencies or mortality. Copper
sulfate fed at 0, 50, 100, 250, or 500 ppm supplemental Cu
had no effect on gains, feed efficiencies or mortality. A
level of 1000 ppm supplemental Cu impaired growth performance.
In the third experiment, the switching between a high
(54% alfalfa) and low (20% alfalfa) fiber diet 2 weeks post
weaning was examined for effects on gains, feed efficiencies
and mortality of growing rabbits. Overall performance was
not affected by the switching of the diets. Mortalities
were lower for animals fed the high fiber diet for the first
2 weeks post weaning, while feed efficiencies were better
for rabbits eating the low fiber diet at some time during
the growing period.
In conclusion, clinoptilolite fed at 3.0% proved the
most beneficial for improving growth performance and
reducing mortality. The inclusion of Cu and TM-10 had no
effect on growth performance or mortality. Diets containing
high fiber (54% alfalfa) improved gains and reduced
mortality while diets low in fiber (20% alfalfa) had the
best feed conversions.