Forage utilization by rabbits Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/tq57nv18n

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  • Several experiments were conducted to evaluate various forages and forage levels for use in rabbit diets. Several tropical forages were evaluated for their potential in feeding rabbits. One of the tropical forages, Desmodium distortum produced better growth performance than alfalfa meal. The tropical forages were used to derive prediction equations for digestible energy (DE) from chemical analysis. One good predictor of DE was found to be, DE(cal/g) = 4.39-0.0533(CWC). Leaves, stems, heads and whole plant preparations of Amaranthus hypochondriacs and whole plant Amaranthus retroflexus gave poor growth performance compared to alfalfa meal when fed to growing rabbits. Amaranthus contains substances which are unpalatable to rabbits as assessed by low consumption of it. Results show that these two species of amaranthus are not good substitutes for alfalfa meal in the diets of growing rabbits. Growing rabbits in controlled environmental conditions were able to tolerate up to 90% alfalfa meal in their diets without growth depression. A trial involving producing does and their litters fed either a low(28%), medium(54%) or high(74%) alfalfa diet showed that total litter size and total litter weight at 56 days increased as the alfalfa level increased in diet. One reason for this was lower postweaning mortality due to diarrhea on the higher alfalfa diets. Based on favorable results from the preliminary trial, the 54% alfalfa diet was tested along with a commercial diet in a 60 doe herd. Results showed that the 54% alfalfa diet gave results equal to or better than the commercial diet in overall rabbit production. In studying the effects of natural light versus controlled light it was found that the total number of rabbits weaned per doe per year could be increased by the use of controlled lighting (16 hours of light per 24 hour period) during an entire year. Results of the 1 day rebreed versus 14 day rebreed phase of this study revealed that there was no advantage of rebreeding does 1 day versus 14 days in terms of total numbers of rabbits weaned per doe per year. Results of these experiments show that rabbits make efficient use of forages in producing a high quality meat on feedstuffs which are largely non-competitive with human needs.
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