Experimental balance to estimate efficiency in the use of nitrogen in rabbit breeding
Keywords:fattening rabbits, nitrogen, excretion, balance, manure
Defining the composition and properties of manure in livestock production is critical in order to minimise possible environmental impacts stemming from its management. In this study, a nitrogen balance was carried out during two identical fattening periods (Experiments 1 and 2) in growing rabbits from weaning (age 28 d and live weight about 0.6 kg) to slaughter (age 61 d and live weight about 1.8 kg). The breeding conditions were typical for Spanish rabbit production. The objectives were to quantify the total nitrogen excreted by the animals and to estimate the average efficiency in the use of this nutrient, in comparison to other species. Animal weight, feed intake, and the production of faeces and urine were monitored weekly in a set of eight cages with nine rabbits in each, performing weekly analyses for nitrogen content in feed, urine and faeces. The overall nitrogen excretion was 50.2 g N per animal in Experiment 1 and 46.9 g N per animal in Experiment 2, which corresponded to about 58% of the total nitrogen intake. Urine and faeces contributed to overall nitrogen excretion in approximately the same proportions. The nitrogen excretion ratio was 40 grams per kilogram of animal produced. According to this ratio, rabbit breeding is less efficient in the use of nitrogen than raising broilers, but more than fattening pigs.
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