The effect of age on the carcass composition, portion yield and proximate composition of two rabbit genetic types in South Africa




rabbit, carcass, meat, Californian, New Zealand


This study investigated the carcass component yields and meat proximate composition of 2 rabbit genetic types (Californian and hybrid New Zealand Red×Californian), with 5 rabbits per genetic type being slaughtered every 2 wk throughout the study period (9-17 wk) to evaluate the effect of age on these traits. Slaughter weight, reference yield, portion yield (hind leg, foreleg and fore part, as percentage of slaughter weight), meat yield, skin weight and the fat content of the meat (percentage of wet weight) increased significantly with age, while the full gastrointestinal tract, liver, head and feet decreased significantly. This is likely a reflection of the early-maturing nature of bone and viscera and later maturing nature of muscle and fat. These results indicate that delaying slaughter to 13 wk tends to improve yields for valuable carcass components. The Californian had a significantly higher total meat yield at 11 and 17 wk and higher portion meat yields at 9 (hind leg), 11 (hind leg and fore part) and 13 (foreleg) weeks than the hybrid. This was likely due to the later maturation of the hybrid and the influence of the New Zealand Red on carcass quality. It therefore appears that the Californian may be more favourable for meat production, from a carcass and meat quality perspective.


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Author Biographies

M.K. North, Stellenbosch University

Department of Animal Sciences

P. Nkhabutlane, Stellenbosch University

Department of Animal Sciences

L.C. Hoffman, Stellenbosch University

Department of Animal Sciences


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