A meta-analysis on the role of soluble fibre in diets for growing rabbits

Angela Trocino, Javier García Alonso, Rosa Carabaño, Gerolamo Xiccato


In this review, the methods used to measure fibre and soluble fibre fractions are briefly presented and the effects of the soluble fibre content in diets for growing rabbits reviewed by a meta-analysis of studies available in literature, with the aim of elucidating the relationships with other dietary nutrients. Soluble fibre was assumed as the difference between total dietary fibre (TDF) and neutral detergent fibre (NDF), as it is simple to obtain and has been measured in numerous studies. Dietary soluble fibre content affects the digestive utilisation of soluble and insoluble fibre fractions and its increase is associated with reduced mortality in growing rabbits affected by epizootic rabbit enteropathy. This effect could be attributed to the high fermentability of soluble fibre, the consequent changes in the intestinal microbiota and an enhanced gut barrier function just after weaning. A supply of 12-14% of soluble fibre (as-fed) is recommended in diets for post-weaning and growing rabbits containing around 30% NDF and 18% acid detergent fibre. The positive effects of increasing dietary soluble fibre are linked to the use of sugar beet pulp as primary source of soluble fibre and should be confirmed with other sources of soluble fibre.


growing rabbits; soluble fibre; digestibility; caecal fermentation; health

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