Effects of plant extracts and essential oils as feed supplements on quality and microbial traits of rabbit meat

A. P. Kone, D. Cinq-Mars, Y. Desjardins, F. Guay, A. Gosselin, L. Saucier

Abstract

The effects of dietary supplementation of onion, cranberry,  strawberry and essentials oils on meat quality were analysed. Five groups of 48 Grimaud female weaned rabbits received the supplemented or the control ration; the experimental unit was a cage of 6 rabbits. Each experimental diet contained 10 ppm of added active ingredients.  Rabbits were fed with the experimental diets for 4 wk before determining slaughter and carcass traits and determining the pH at 1 and 24 h post mortem (pHu) of the Longissimus dorsi (LD) and the Biceps femoris (BF) muscle, left and right, respectively. Cooking loss, drip loss and L*, a* and b* color parameters were obtained of the right LD and for ground meat and antioxidant status (TBARS, DNPH, Folin Ciocalteu). Only the pHu of the LD muscle for the strawberry supplemented group was significantly lower when compared to the control group (P=0.04). However, we note that for the pH of the LD, the average was less than 6 for the meat of animals who received a diet enriched in polyphenols, compared to the control group. Plant extract supplementation did not influence meat quality traits, growth performance or oxidative stability. But under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, our results indicate that diet supplementation with extracts rich in polyphenols, especially with essential oils, had a small bot sporadic positive effect in reducing bacterial microflora compared to the control group (P<0.05). In conclusion, plant extracts and essential oils can be used in a rabbit diet without adverse effects on performance and meat quality traits. This effect could be optimized by investigating higher doses.

Keywords

essential oils; plant extract; polyphenol; rabbit meat; shelf life

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