Effects of barley straw utilization as main fibre source on diet's digestibility, growth performance and slaughter rate of growing rabbits


  • A. Ben Rayana Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie
  • R. Bergaoui Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie
  • C. Kayouli Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie
  • M. Ben Hamouda Ecole Supérieure d'Agriculture




The object of this study was to establish the consequences of replacement of lucerne by barley straw as main fibre source in the diet of growing rabbits. Three diets were composed with straw + alfalfa proportions as follows: 0%+20% (diet T), 6%+8% (diet P1) and 10%+0% (diet P2). The 3 diets were isoenergetic (11 Mj/kg DM), isonitrogenous (20.8% CP/DM) and isofibrous (13.7% ADFJDMJ, In a first trial, per experimental group 20 commercial hybrid rabbits (Hyla) of both sexes were caged individually and received ad libitum one of the 3 diets (T, P1 or P2) from 6 to 13 weeks and were then slaughtered. Individual diet's digestibility was measured at 6, 9 and 12 weeks of age. In a second trial, 16 rabbits per group were studied in the same conditions with diets T and P2, except the digestibility studied only at 12 weeks. In a third experiment  70 rabbits per group, of the same origin, caged by 5, were fed diets T or per P2 between 31 and 77 days of age and then slaughtered. The modifications of the diet's formula needed for the 10% straw incorporation resulted in a better nitrogen digestibility with diet P2 than with the control T, the difference being greater at 6 weeks (77.9% for P2 vs 70.5% for T) than at 12 weeks (84% vs 80%). The dry matter and ADF digestibility were modified in the same manner but the differences were smaller than for nitrogen. On average, utilization of the diet P2 with 10% straw, resulted in a growth rate (31.5 g/day for P2 vs 33.6 g/day for T) but in a better feed conversion ratio (3.64 vs 3.85). The slaughter parameters (weight of carcass, skin and digestive tract) were not modified for rabbits slaughtered at 13 weeks (2,7-2,8 kg live weight) but the slaughter rate was reduced when rabbits were slaughtered at 11 weeks (2.3 kg). 


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