Plasma urea nitrogen as an indicator of amino acid imbalance in rabbit diets

Pablo Jesús Marín-García, María del Carmén López-Luján, Luís Ródenas, Eugenio Melchor Martínez-Paredes, Enrique Blas, Juan José Pascual


In recent decades, recommendations on dietary protein content have been considerably reduced, while fibre content has been increased. Under these conditions, an adequate dietary amino acid balance could be crucial to optimise feed efficiency. Plasma urea nitrogen (PUN) level could be a good indicator of an amino acid imbalance and its potential has already been studied in other species, but not yet in rabbits. The main objective of the present work was to detect the possible interest of PUN in pinpointing amino acid deficiencies in rabbits. Two experimental diets were formulated from the same basal mixture, following all the recommendations for growing rabbits, except lysine, whose content was variable, following current guidelines in diet P8.1 or lower from those in P4.4 (with 8.1 and 4.4 g/kg dry matter of lysine and with 757 and 411 mg of lysine per MJ of digestible energy). Three different trials were designed: one where the animals were fed ad libitum (AL) and two others in which fasting periods of 10 h were included; one where feeding was restored at 08:00 h (Fast8h) and the other at 18:00 h (Fast18h). A total of 72 three-way crossbred growing rabbits (24 animals for each trial in a split-plot trial) up to a total of 12 recordings were used. Blood samples were taken every 4 h in AL trial and every hour after refeeding up to a total of six controls, in trials Fast8h and Fast18h. The differences between balanced and unbalanced diets in lysine were highest (P<0.001) between 04:00 h and 12:00 h in animals fed ad libitum, and at 3 h after refeeding (21:00 h) in Fast18h. These results suggest that PUN could be an adequate indicator to detect deficiencies in amino acids in growing rabbit


rabbit; amino acid; plasma urea nitrogen; feed intake

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