Fats in rabbit nutrition: a review


  • Luc Maertens Center for Agricultural Research




Effects of inclusion of fat oil or full-fat seeds in rabbit diets are reviewed. Rabbits kits are able to ingest and to efficiently digest large quantities of milk lipids. About 40% of the milk fat consists of medium-chain fatty acids (C8:0 and C10:0). Rabbits digest dietary lipids in a way comparable to other monogastric animals. With the exception of tallow, added fat or oil is nearly 100% digestible, especially at low levels of inclusion. The dietary inclusion of fats or full-fat soybeans is well accepted by the rabbits and does not provoke palatability problems. Growth rate of fryers is commonly not influenced by dietary fat addition but, due to the increased energy density, a more favorable feed efficiency is obtained. However, a replacement of starch by fat, on an iso-energetic basis, increases the carcass lipid content. In lactating does, dietary fat addition leads to a higher daily DE intake ( +5%/1 % of fat). This additional energy intake is primarily used for increased milk production. Fat addition modifies milk composition and carcass lipids of fryers. The dietary fatty acid pattern has a regulating effect on meat fatty acid content. The major interest for the use of fats is to increase the energy concentration of the fibrous rabbit diets. However, fat-added diets are only economically acceptable in intensive rabbit meat production systems to favour feed efficiency. Under practica! feeding conditions, fat addition is limited to 2-3% in order to maintain the durability of the pellets. Finally, fats also show sorne potential to reduce thermal stress because under hot environmental temperatures, energy intake tends to be higher.


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