Litter size component traits in two Algerian rabbit lines

Rafik Belabbas, Maria de la Luz García, Hacina AinBaziz, Ali Berbar, Maria José Argente


The aim of this study was to estimate the limiting litter size components in rabbit females from a Synthetic line (n=32) and a Local population (n=34). Ovulation rate, number of implanted and live embryos were counted by laparoscopy at 12 d after mating. Prolificacy (total newborn, number born alive and mortality) and embryonic, foetal and prenatal survival at day of birth of the 3rd gestation were measured. The analysed traits were body weight of the female at mating, ovulation rate, implanted, live and resorbed embryos, embryonic, foetal and prenatal survival, as well as total newborn, number born alive and mortality at birth. Synthetic line females had a higher ovulation rate compared to the Local population (11.03±0.23 vs. 8.41±0.23 corpora lutea; P<0.0001). Synthetic line displayed a higher number of implanted embryos (10.00±0.25 vs. 7.85±0.25 embryos; P<0.0001). No difference was found between groups for number of resorbed embryos. Similar embryonic, foetal and prenatal survival rates were reported between the Synthetic line and the Local population. Additionally, total newborn was higher in the Synthetic line than in the Local population (+1.46 kits; P<0.05). A principal components analysis was performed. The first four principal components (PC) explained more than 90% of the total variation in both lines. Total newborn, number born alive and live embryos were the main variables defining the 1st PC. Resorbed embryos and foetal survival were located in the 2nd PC. Ovulation rate and embryonic survival were the predominant variables defining the 3rd PC. The body weight of females was located in the 4th PC. The phenotypic correlation between total newborn and its components were high and positive in both lines, except for ovulation rate and total newborn, where it was moderate in Synthetic line. In conclusion, the females from Synthetic line have a higher total newborn than those from Local population, as a consequence of a higher number of released oocytes and embryos that successfully reach implantation. However, a higher uterine crowding in Synthetic line seems to limit survival of foetuses that reach term of gestation, while ovulation rate is the principal limiting factor of total newborn in Local population.


crossbreeding; litter size; ovulation; prenatal survival; rabbits

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