Effects of a short-term feed restriction on growth performance, blood metabolites and hepatic IGF-1 levels in growing rabbits


  • J. Lu Southwest University
  • Y. Shen Southwest University
  • Z. He Southwest University
  • X. Dai Southwest University
  • D. Wang Southwest University
  • J. Zhang Southwest University
  • H. Li Southwest University




feed restriction, growth performance, blood metabolite, liver hormone, growing rabbits


A total of 144 weaned hybrid HYLA rabbits (40-day-old) were randomly divided into 4 groups, to investigate the effects of the intensity of one week’s feed restriction on short- and medium-term growth performance, blood metabolites and hepatic IGF-1 in growing rabbits. Restricted groups were fed with 30% (Group L30), 50% (Group L50) 70% (Group L70) of ad libitum feeding for 1 wk and then fed ad libitum until the end of the experiment (75 d of age). The control group (Group AL) was fed ad libitum throughout the experiment. Total feed intake (–15.8%) and feed conversion ratio (–13.2%) were lower in the L50 than in the AL group (P<0.05), but no difference was found between the L30, L70 and AL groups (P>0.05) for these parameters. Total weight gain did not significantly differ among the 4 experimental groups (38.5 g/d; P>0.05). At the end of the feed restriction period, the total serum protein level (P=0.01) was higher in restricted rabbits than AL rabbits (P<0.01), while the hepatic IGF-1 level was lower in L30 and L50 groups than in the 2 other groups (P<0.001). However, no difference remained between groups at the end of the experiment. In contrast, calcium, triglycerides, alkaline phosphatase, urea nitrogen and total cholesterol levels were similar between groups (P>0.05) throughout the experiment. In conclusion, a short-term feed restriction improves feed conversion ratio in a lasting way, transiently alters serum protein and IFG-1 levels and leads to compensatory growth in growing rabbits.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

J. Lu, Southwest University

College of Animal Science and Technology

Y. Shen, Southwest University

College of Animal Science and Technology

Z. He, Southwest University

College of Food Science

X. Dai, Southwest University

College of Animal Science and Technology

D. Wang, Southwest University

College of Animal Science and Technology

J. Zhang, Southwest University

College of Animal Science and Technology

H. Li, Southwest University

College of Food Science


Abdel-Wareth A.A.A., Kehraus S., Ali. A.H.H, Ismail Z.S.H., Sudekum K.H. 2015. Effects of temporary intensive feed restriction on performance, nutrient digestibility and carcass criteria of growing male Californian rabbits. Arch. Anim. Nutr., 69: 69-78. https://doi.org/10.1080/1745039X.2014.1002672

Boisot P., Licois D., Gidenne T. 2003. Feed restriction reduces the sanitary impact of an experimental reproduction of Epizootic Rabbit Enteropathy syndrom (ERE) in the growing rabbit. In Proc.: 10ème J. Rech. Cunicoles Fr., France, 267-270.

Bruss M.L. 1997. Lipids and ketones. In: Kaneko, J., Harvey, W., Brus, M. (Eds.), Clinical Biochemistry of Domestic Animals, Academic Press, New York, 86-105. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-012396305-5/50005-1

Cabaraux J.F., Kerrour M., van Eenaeme C., Dufrasne I., Istasse L., Hornick J.L. 2003. Different modes of food restriction and compensatory growth in double-muscled Belgian Blue bulls: plasma metabolites and hormones. Anim. Sci., 77: 205-214.

Dalle Zotte A., Remignon H., Ouhayoun J. 2005. Effect of feed rationing during post-weaning growth on meat quality, muscle

energy metabolism and fibre properties of Biceps femoris muscle in the rabbits. Meat Sci., 70: 301-306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2005.01.016

De Oliveira M.C., da Silva R.P., Araujo L.S., da Silva V.R., Bento E.A., da Silva D.M. 2012. Effect of feed restriction on performance of growing rabbits. Rev. Bras. Zootecn., 41: 1463-1467.

Di Meo C., Bovera F., Marono S., Vella N., Nizza A. 2007. Effect of feed restriction on performance and feed digestibility in rabbits. Ital. J. Anim. Sci., 6: 765-767.

Díaz Arca F., Pérez Alba L. M., Pérez Hernández M. 1999. Digestibility and energy retention by young rabbits fed different levels of intake. Ann. Zootech., 48: 289-295. https://doi.org/10.1051/animres:19990405

Ebeid T., Tůmová E., Volek Z. 2012. Effects of a one week intensive feed restriction in the growing rabbit: Part 1 – Performance and blood biochemical parameters. In: Proceedings 10th World Rabbit Congress, September 3-6, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, 607-611.

Fenwick M.A., Fitzpatrick R., Kenny D.A., Diskin M.G., Patton J., Murphy J.J., Wathes D.C. 2008. Interrelationships between negative energy balance (NEB) and IGF regulation in liver of lactating dairy cows. Domest. Anim. Endocrin., 34: 31-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.domaniend.2006.10.002

Gidenne T., Bannelier C., Combes S., Fortun-Lamothe L. 2009a. Interaction between the energetic feed concentration and the restriction strategy - impact on feeding behaviour, growth and health of the rabbit. In: Proc. 13ème J. Rech. Cunicoles, Paris., Le Mans, France, 63-66.

Gidenne T., Combes S., Feugier A., Jehl N., Arveux P., Boisot P., Briens C., Corrent E., Fortune H., Montessuy S., Verdelhan S. 2009b. Feed restriction strategy in the growing rabbit. 2. Impact on digestive health, growth and carcass characteristics. Animal, 3: 509-515. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1751731108003790

Gidenne T., Feugier A. 2009. Feed restriction strategy in the growing rabbit. 1. Impact on digestion, rate of passage and microbial activity. Animal, 3: 501-508. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1751731108003789

Gidenne T., Murr S., Travel A., Corrent E., Foubert C., Bebin K., Mevel L., Rebours G., Renouf B. 2009c. Effets du niveau de rationnement et du mode de distribution de l’aliment sur les performances et les troubles digestifs post-sevrage du lapereau. Premiers résultats d’une étude concertée du réseau GEC. Cuniculture Magazine. 36:65-72.

Guyton A.C., Hall J.E. 2006. In: Textbook of Medical Physiology. 11th Edition. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders, 918-930.

Hector K.L., Nakagawa S. 2012. Quantitative analysis of compensatory and catch-up growth in 7diverse taxa. J. Anim. Ecol., 81: 583-593.


Hornick J.L., Van Eenaeme C., Gerard O., Dufrasne I., Istasse L. 2000. Mechanisms of reduced and compensatory growth. Domest. Anim. Endocrin., 19: 121-132. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0739-7240(00)00072-2

Kersten S. 2001. Mechanisms of nutritional and hormonal regulation of lipogenesis. EMBO Rep., 2: 282-286. https://doi.org/10.1093/embo-reports/kve071

Kronfeld D.S., Donoghue S., Copp R.L., Stearns F.M., Engle R.H., 1982. Nutritional status of dairy cows indicated by analysis of blood. J. Dairy Sci., 65: 1925-1933. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(82)82440-5

Licois D. 2004. Domestic rabbit enteropathies. In: Proceedings 8th World Rabbit Congress, September 7-10. Puebla, Mexico, 385-403.

Martignon M.H., Combes S., Gidenne T. 2010. Digestive physiology and hindgut bacterial community of the young rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus): Effects of age and short-term intake limitation. Comp. Bioch. Physiol.- Part A 156:156-162. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2010.01.017

Ndlovu T., Chimonyo M., Okoh A.I., Muchenje V., Dzama K., Dube S., Raats J.G. 2009. A comparison of nutritionally related blood metabolites among Nguni, Bonsmara and Angus steers raised on sweetveld. Vet. J., 179: 273-281. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2007.09.007

Nir I., Nitsan Z., Dunnington E.A., Siegel P.B. 1996. Aspects of food intake restriction in young domestic fowl: metabolic and genetic considerations. World Poultry Sci. J., 52:251-266. https://doi.org/10.1079/WPS19960019

Radcliff R.P., Mccormack B.L., Crooker B.A., Lucy M.C. 2003. Plasma hormones and expression of growth hormone receptor and insulin-like growth factor-I mRNA in hepatic tissue of periparturient dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci., 86: 3920-3926. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(03)74000-4

Rajman M., Jurani M., Lamosova D., Macajova M., Sedlackova

M., Kost’al L., Jezova D., Vyboh P. 2006. The effects of feed

restriction on plasma biochemistry in growing meat type chickens (Gallus gallus). Comp. Biochem. Phys. A., 145: 363-


Renaville R., van Eenaeme C., Breier B.H., Vleurick L., Bertozzi C., Gengler N., Hornick H.L., Parmentier I., Istasse L., Haezebroeck V., Massart S., Portetelle D. 2000. Feed restriction in young bulls alters the onset of puberty in relationship with plasma insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and IGF-binding proteins. Domest. Anim. Endocrin., 18: 165-176. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0739-7240(99)00076-4

Romero C., Cuesta S., Astillero J.R., Nicodemus N., De Blas C. 2010. Effect of early feed restriction on performance and health status in growing rabbits slaughtered at 2 kg live-weight. World Rabbit Sci., 18: 211-218. https://doi.org/10.4995/wrs.2010.778

Rosell J.M., de la Fuente L.F., Badiola J.I., Fernández de Luco D., Casal J., Saco M. 2010. Study of urgent visits to commercial rabbit farms in Spain and Portugal during 1997-2007. World Rabbit Sci., 17: 127-136. https://doi.org/10.4995/wrs.2009.652

Sjogren K., Liu J.L., Blad K., Skrtic S., Vidal O., Wallenius V., LeRoith D., Tornell J., Isaksson O.G.P., Jansson J.O. 1999. Liver-derived insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) is the principal source of IGF-I in blood but is not required for postnatal body growth in mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 96: 7088-7092. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.96.12.7088

Taranto S., Di Meo C., Stanco G., Piccolo G., Gazaneo M.P., Nizza A. 2003. Influence of age at weaning on caecal content characteristics and post-weaning performance and health of rabbits. Asian Austral. J. Anim., 16: 1540-1544. https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2003.1540

Tůmová E., Skřivan M., Skřivanová V., Kacerivská L. 2002. Effect of early feed restriction on growth in broiler chickens, turkeys and rabbits. Czech J. Anim. Sci., 47: 418-428.

Van Harten S., Cardoso L.A. 2010. Feed restriction and genetic selection on the expression and activity of metabolism regulatory enzymes in rabbits. Animal, 4: 1873-1883. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1751731110001047