Adaptive capacity of female rabbits submitted to a change in breeding practices

M. Theau.Clément, P. Galliot, C. Souchet, L. Bignon, L. Fortun-Lamothe


The aim of this study was to test the consequences of a change in breeding practices on 219 multiparous rabbit does over 2 reproductive cycles (5th and 6th insemination). Three rabbit breeding systems were defined I: intensive, S: semi-intensive and E: extensive), which varied for the females in terms of reproductive rhythm (RR: 35, 42 and 49 d, respectively) and age at first insemination (20.6, 19.6 and 16.6 wk, respectively), and for kits in terms of age at weaning (32, 35 and 30 d, respectively) and age at slaughter (63, 70 and 70 d, respectively). Females were submitted to one of the 3 systems from the 1st to the 4th artificial insemination (AI), and to another system from the 5th to the 6th AI, before returning to the initial system at the 7th AI. Consequently, they were allocated to 4 groups: I-S-I, S-I-S, S-E-S and E-S-E. Because of poor reproductive performance in the I system and despite a high growth of kits before weaning due to a more energetic diet for does, a sudden change from an I system to an S system significantly increased productivity at 28 d, from 3.37 to 5.04 kg/AI. Conversely, in the S and E systems, the females were not very sensitive to an intensification (groups S-I-S and E-S-E) or an extensification (S-E-S) of the breeding system, leading to similar productivity at 63 d (14.4 and 14.3 kg/AI, 14.4 and 13.5 kg/AI, 16.5 and 16.2 kg/AI, respectively, for groups S-I-S, E-S-E and S-E-S). The consequences of a return to the initial system deserve to be tested over a longer period.


rabbit; breeding system; flexibility; reproductive performance; growth

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 Universitat Politècnica de València


Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)


e-ISSN: 1989-8886     ISSN: 1257-5011