The aim of this study was to characterize the growth of rabbits of a local Algerian population (Kabylian) from birth to weaning at 28 days. A total of 216 litters from 82 females of the local population were regularly weighed between birth and weaning (28 d) in the experimental rabbitry of the Tizi-Ouzou University (100 km east of Algiers). The average weight of young rabbits at birth was 51 g. During the first three weeks of nursing, the young rabbit?s weight increased from 119 g at the end of the first week to 308 g at the end of the third week. At weaning the average weight of kits was 475 g. The 0-28 d daily weight gain (DWG) was modest (15.7g/d). DWG was significantly lower in summer (12.6 g/d) than during the three other seasons (15.9 to 16.9 g/d) mainly as a consequence of a reduced growth rate during the fourth week. There was no significant effect of season on growth rate until the age of three weeks, which implies that there was no significant effect of season on milk production of the does. The birth weight decreased from 62.1 g for kits born in litters of 1-4, to 43.0 g for those born in litters with 9 or more born alive. Similarly the DWG was reduced from 18 to 12 g/day. Individual kit?s birth weight was the smallest for primiparous does (44.2 g) when compared to multiparous does (52.7 g), but at weaning, differences were not significant (438 to 496 g for kits born from does in parity class 1 to 4 or more). These results confirm the low growth rate of this local population, but also the good resistance of does to hot summer conditions.
Young rabbit; Algeria; growth performance; birth; weaning; sucking period