Effect of a 48 hours doe-litter separation on rabbit doe's reproductive performance and offspring's growth
Artificial insemination of lactating does at 10-11 days after parturition poses difficulties to achieve high fertility rate. lt would be important to overcome this constraint because shortening the interval between two parturitions would have an economic advantage. In this study, 308 inseminations of 90 NZW does over a six-parity period were evaluated to determine the effects of a 48 hours of doe-litter separation (S group) compared to the free suckling (R group) on does reproductive performance and on the growth of the actually nursed litter. All litters were equalised at 8 kits per litter on day 1 post partum. For the separated group, the kindling rate showed an overall significant increase of 20 points (64.7% vs 44.9%). The difference between the groups was the highest (around 40 points) far primiparous does. lmprovement decreased thereafter for does inseminated during their 2nd and 3rd lactation (less then 10 points) and raised again during last lactations (reaching more than 20 points). Weight gain of the actually nursed litter between the 9th and 11 th days post partum (i. e. when one suckling was omitted in the separated group) was significantly different (P < 0.0001) being 50 ± 11 and 243 ± 11 g in the S and R groups, respectively. On the 21 st day of lactation, this resulted in a significant (P < 0.001) reduction of litter weight (2548 ± 75 vs 2927 ± 66 g for S and R groups, respectively). The difference was the same from lactations 1-4, however it disappeared for later lactations. The results indicate that doe-litter separation is effective in term of kindling rate improvement mainly for primiparous does, however it has severe consequences on the litter weight at 21 days of age.
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