Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Effect of dietary crude protein level and source of supplemental protein on performance of commercial rabbits Public Deposited

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  • A study was conducted to determine the effect of dietary protein on performance of commercial New Zealand White rabbits. In Part I of this study, three levels of crude protein (17.5, 19 and 20.5%) were fed to lactating does and their offspring during a 12 month period. Total rabbits born was higher and percentage born alive was lower for does fed the higher protein diets. The heaviest litters and greatest litter gains were recorded from does fed 19% crude protein (CP), and these does also had the most litters. Does fed 17.5% CP were lighter at 21 and 28 d of lactation which suggested that they were catabolizing body tissues for milk synthesis. Results from a digestibility and nitrogen utilization trial supported this hypothesis. Does fed 20.5% CP were able to retain 90% more nitrogen during lactation than those fed 17.5% CP. Performance of does at first parity was poorest for all traits except fertility. Fertility fluctuated throughout the first four parities and then steadily declined. One-half of the litters were continued on their respective diets from weaning (28 d) to 56 d. Postweaning feed efficiency (feed/gain) was superior but mortality was greatest for animals fed 20.5% CP. An experiment to determine the effect of preweaning protein diet on postweaning performance revealed no significant differences but postweaning mortality was highest for animals fed 20.5% CP before weaning. Month of year had no significant effect on any of the characters studied, but a decrease in fertility was observed between September and December. In Part II of the study, lower levels of crude protein along with amino acid supplementation were evaluated for weanling rabbits. Performance was not different for rabbits fed diets containing CP levels ranging from 16.5-22%. Methionine supplementation at .3% increased growth slightly, especially for lighter weanlings and animals fed 74% alfalfa diets. Lysine depressed growth when .3% was added to the diet. Part III of the study was conducted to evaluate alternate protein sources for weanling rabbits. Raw soybeans, pinto beans and radish seeds were poorly utilized. Animals fed heat-treated pinto beans and 20% radish seed diets performed better than animals fed raw pinto bean and 20% radish seed diets respectively. Extruded soybeans and soy flour were of equal value to the standard soybean meal supplement. In conclusion, 19% CP was found to be optimal for lactating does and preweaning litters. Diets containing 16.5% CP and no supplemental protein were adequate for weanling rabbits. Extruded soybeans and soy flour were the only alternate protein sources of value in this study.
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