Towards reduced feeding costs, dietary safety and minimal mineral excretion in rabbits: a review


  • Luc Maertens Center for Agricultura! Research



This article reviews some actual trends in rabbit nutrition. To be more competitive with poultry and pig production, a further reduction of the overall feed conversion rate of rabbitries till 3.25 is necessary. Genetic, management and nutritional improvements are simultaneously possible to achieve this goal and are discussed in this paper. A trend towards phase feeding is observed in rabbit nutrition. Several arguments are given: (i) requirements of fatteners are different shortly after weaning compared to the finishing period; (ii) by matching the dietary protein (amino acids) to the age related requirements, diets with a lower protein level can be fed, resulting in a significant reduced N-excretion. This is of special importance to reduce the environmental pollution, in areas with a high density of animal production. Finally, (iii) energy concentrated diets can be fed in the finishing period to improve the feed conversion rate. A policy till a further banning of feed additives can be expected. Disease control, including dietary safety will be of increasing interest. The role of dietary fibre and starch on rabbit health has recently been better defined. Lignin has a predominant role on the transit time and to reduce the incidence of enterits. A lignin (ADL>5%), starch (<13.5%) and cellulose constrain (>15%) is suggested in diet formulation for young rabbits instead of a single recommendation for crude fibre or ADF. However, dietary fibre and starch recommendations are depending from age and physiological status.


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