A total of 78 rabbits representing two genetic groups of V-line and crossbred of V-line x Saudi Gabali were used to evaluate dietary treatments containing discarded dates (DD) for post-weaning growth performance? feed consumption and conversion? carcass characteristics, caecal parameters, and blood constituents. In the control diet (C), no DD was added? while in the other diets DD were incorporated to replace partially barley? wheat bran? molasses and corn by 15% (D15 diet) or 30% (D30 diet). Feed conversion ratio at interval of 4-12 weeks was significantly in favour of the control diet. Carcass traits and caecal parameters were not significantly affected by any of the 3 dietary treatments. Total caecal bacterial count was significantly increased in favour of rabbits fed D30. Crude protein, ether extract and ash in the lean were in favour of the diets containing 15 or 30% DD; indicating an improvement of 5.3 or 3.9% in crude protein and 7.3 or 14.4% in ash relative to the control diet, respectively. Rabbits fed D30 recorded a significant decrease in the plasma cholesterol. Crossbred rabbits were heavier in body weights and gains than that of the V-line rabbits. Feed conversion ratios were in favour of V-line rabbits. Fat in carcass and meat to bone ratio in crossbred rabbits were significantly higher than that in V-line rabbits, while percentages of the lean and bone in V-line carcasses were higher. Caecal bacterial count in crossbred rabbits was lower than that in V-line rabbits. Carcass traits, tissues compositions, caecal parameters and blood constituents were significantly affected by interaction of dietary treatments with genetic groups, while most of the lean constituents were not affected. Crossbred rabbits fed D30 conversed feed lesser (2.57) than crossbred rabbits fed the other two dietary treatments since feed conversion ratio was 2.48 for C diet and 2.49 for D15 diet. But? V-line rabbits fed C diet conversed better (2.95) than V-line rabbits fed D15 or D30 since feed conversion ratio was 3.29 for D15 and 3.04 for D30.
Rabbit; genetic line; dates; growth performance; meat quality; caecal microflora; blood parameters