Effect of tropical green forage Pueraria phaseoloides addition to a pelleted complete feed on rabbit growth performance and digestion
The aim of this work was to study the effect of tropical green forage on rabbit growth performance and apparent digestibility. Thirty rabbits weaned at 35 d of age were individually caged and allotted to 2 dietary treatments. From 35 to 90 d of age, the control group C was fed ad libitum with commercial pelleted diet C only, while the test group was fed the C diet and forage Pueraria phaseoloides (Pp) ad libitum. Individual water and feed intake, body weight gain, nutrient apparent digestibility, red and white blood cells were studied. Mean housing temperature was 27.7°C. Water intake (35-90 d) did not differ between the 2 groups (mean=128 mL/d), whereas feed intake (35-90 d) was twice as high, with Pp (114 vs. 56 g; P=0.02). Forage intake doubled every 2 wk, averaging 50% of the total intake from 35 to 90 d of age. The growth rate was higher (+30%) in the Pp group after weaning (35-49 d) but did not differ between groups thereafter. The feed conversion was higher for the Pp group after weaning only (+ 87%; P<0;05). Weight of rabbits and feed efficiency were not affected by forage addition. Organic matter digestibility of diet C alone was roughly twofold higher compared to C+Pp (P=0.03). Red blood cells were not affected by treatments (4.1×1012 cells/L). However, the white blood cell count was higher in Pp than in C group (7.4×109 vs. 3.9×109 cells/L; P<0.01). P. phaseoloides may be used as a complement to a balanced pelleted feed, but further studies with a large number of rabbits are necessary to analyse the potential impact on health status.
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