Seasonal variations in furs of Gabaly and New Zealand white rabbits and their crossbred under Egyptian semi-arid conditions

A.I. Nasr, E.A. Taha, S.B. Naglaa, D.G. Essa

Abstract

The effect of breed and season on rabbits’ fur characteristics under Egyptian semi-arid conditions was studied in this research. Fifty-nine male rabbits aged 3-3.5 mo of Gabaly (GB, n=21) and New Zealand White (NZW, n=27) breeds and their crossbred (NZW×GB, n=11) were studied during two subsequent seasons; summer (n=31) and winter (n=28). Skin samples were taken pre-slaughtering to determine the histological parameters, skin layer thicknesses and physical traits of fur fibres. After slaughter, rabbits’ furs were chrome tanned to determine physical and chemical properties. Results showed that all histological parameters of follicle dimensions were affected (P<0.01) by season, breed and their interaction. In summer, primary follicles had larger follicle dimensions and produced coarser fibres than in winter, whereas opposite results were observed for the secondary follicles. Additionally, the uniformity of fibre diameter distribution and hair length of furs were higher (P<0.01) in summer than in winter. Results indicated the role of the seasonal variations in body coat to accommodate the climatic changes. NZW rabbits were superior (P<0.01) in most histological parameters of follicle dimensions, followed by NZW×GB crossbred and finally GB rabbits, while NZW×GB crossbred produced finer (P<0.01) fur fibre than NZW and GB rabbits. Otherwise, influence of season and breed were negligible on the skin layer thickness values and the physical and chemical fur properties. Consequently, the study concluded that tanned rabbit furs are suitable for manufacturing leather garments when used alone, while reinforcing the fur with textile padding may increase their utility for other leather manufacturing purposes.

Keywords

rabbit breeds; chrome tanning; fibre; rabbit fur; season

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