Effect of doe-litter separation on survival and growth of young rabbits
The effect of doe-litter separation on growth and mortality of young rabbits was studied at two different ages: 4 or 11 days. A total of 325 litters were used in this work. Experimental groups were composed with litters separated from their dam for 0, 24, 36 or 48 hours before the artificial insemination, performed on day 4 or 11 post partum. The separation lasting 36 or 48 hours clearly affected growth especially in 4 days old rabbits. A decrease of rabbit weight was observed after 48 hours separation on 4 days (20%, P<0.001) as well as on 11 days (13%, P<0.07). The negative effect on growth was still detected at weaning (10-13%, P< 0.08) in the 4 day-old rabbit group, but not in the 11 day-old group. Differences tended to disappear as age from weaning increased. Litter survival was not affected, although specific attention should be paid in future research at higher. lt is concluded that the positive effects of doe-litter separation on fertility could compensate the negative influence on growth, which seem to be reduced as age from weaning increased.
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