Rearing management of rabbit does : a review
Under the current management strategies, young does are not able to meet the high energy requirements for concurrent pregnancy and lactation during the first litters, resulting in nutritional deficits, decreased reproductive performance and a high replacement rate. Feed intake capacity seems to be the main limiting factor. According to literature it seems impossible to adequately solve this problem by taking management measures during the reproduction period. The rearing period seems to be the best time to influence body development and feed to optimize the reproductive performance of young does. This is because of the rapid development of organs and tissues at an early age.
The present review firstly summarises literature on body growth and development in rabbits. · Management practises and factors which could be relevant during the rearing period to stimulate feed intake and influence body development are then reviewed. Finally, implications for rearing strategies are discussed. The development and growth of the kits in life depends on the birth weight. Birth weight is influenced in the prenatal period by the parity, re-mating interval and nutrition of the doe. Optimal growth and development of the foetuses is provided when the doe is multiparous, kept under a semi-reproductive rhythm (42 days) and not restricted in feeding level. In the pre-weaning period, milk intake of the kits seems to be the most important factor affecting body growth and development so breeding does should not be reared in litters larger than 8 or 9 kits. After weaning, the energy intake and dietary fibre level of the diet seem to be important factors to regulate body growth and development and slimulate feed intake capacity. There are indicalions that reproductive performance can be oplimized by using rearing strategies focussed on stimulating feed intake capacity. Further research is needed to improve our knowledge of the effect of rearing strategies on subsequent reproduction.
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