The effect of doe-litter separation on production performance in rabbit does and their kits
Pannon White does were subjected to artificial insemination between 9 and 11 days subsequent to kindling (no. of Al = 931). Controlled suckling was systematically applied from 0 to 18 days post partum. In addition to the control group (group C, n = 236), the does of the three experimental groups were prevented from suckling on the day prior to insemination (48h doe-litter separation, or MLS). The following day some of the does were inseminated two hours before suckling (B-2, n = 229), some immediately after suckling (B-0, n = 234), and some two hours after suckling (B+2, n = 232). The effect of biostimulation led to only slight, non-significant improvement in receptivity (0-7 %) and fertility rate (1-5 %). Litter sizes increased by 0.74 and 0.70 kits in groups B-2 and B-0 respectively, with no increase being observed in group B+2. Nevertheless, compared with the control group, suckling applied at the time of insemination improved the productivity at birth (+ 0.9 kits born alive per insemination). The most considerable but non-significant effect of MLS was recorded at the first kindling subsequent to separation. On the day after the omission of suckling the quantity of milk produced by the does increased by 22 %; on the three subsequent days milk secretion in these does lagged behind that of the does of the control group by 33 %, 15 % and 6 % respectively. In addition, two days after the omission of suckling, the milk secreted was found to contain higher levels than previously of dry matter (by 4.2 %), fat (by 1.7 %), protein (by 2.6 %) and ash (by 0.53 %). These values later returned to levels approaching the original values. Due to the omission of one suckling the weight of suckling and growing rabbits declined by 26-34 g. No compensatory growth was observed either before or after weaning (live weight controlled at 70 days: 2102 g in the control and 2068 g for rabbils of the 3 experimental groups). As some of these results are in opposition with previous reports using hybrids, the authors conclude that the effect of such a biostimulation could vary according to the genotype and/or breeding systems (particularly with controlled or free suckling applied before and after the stimulation).
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