Feeding and meat quality in rabbits: a review


  • G. Xiccato Università di Padova




The principal objectives of rabbit feeding strategies are to limit digestive disorders, shorten rearing time and increase dressing percentage. Besides, new attention is placed on the carcass composition in terms of primal joint cut, fat and lean proportions, and on the technological and sensory characteristics of the meat, due to the increasing demand for processed meat. The possibility of modifying carcass and meat quality has been demonstrated to be very limited when rabbits are fed a balanced diet ad libítum. Only extreme situations like severe restriction and lack or large excess in a specific nutrient are able to influence slaughter traits and meat characteristics. However, growth performance and health conditions may be also compromised. The manipulation of the development rate of the different body tissues seems to be possible through adequate feeding programs based on different protein levels in relation to dietary energy, but more studies are required to clarify the variations of protein and amino acid requirements throughout the entire growing period. From the literature, it clearly appears that fat addition to the diet, both as inclusion leve! and source, significantly affects carcass fatness and meat fatty acid composition. The consequences are evident in the organoleptic appreciation of rabbit meat and also in its technological characteristics. Therefore further studies are required in order to investigate the biochemical processes that determine post-mortem transformation of muscles into meat and the evolution during storage.


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