Effect of restricted feeding under rearing on reproduction, body condition and blood metabolites of rabbit does selected for growth rate

C. Naturil-Alfonso, F. Marco-Jiménez, J.J. Pascual, J.S. Vicente


Young rabbit females selected for growth rate can have nutritional needs which may not be met by the common practice of feed restriction during rearing in commercial rabbit production. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of two different feeding programmes: restricted and ad libitum feeding, applied in young rabbit females for one month at the end of rearing, on reproductive performance, body condition and circulating metabolic hormones and metabolites in a rabbit line selected by growth rate in 3 consecutive reproductive cycles. Thus, twenty-four 16-week-old does were randomly assigned to a group in which the daily recommended nutrient intakes were satisfied (fed restricted: 130 g/day, n=13) or a group fed to satiety (ad libitum: 235.5 g/day, n=11) during one month. Then, all does were inseminated in 3 consecutive cycles using a 42-day reproductive cycle. Measurements of does’ body weight, perirenal fat thickness and plasma leptin, non-esterified-fatty-acids (NEFA), beta-hydroxybutyrate (BOHB) and fructosamine were performed at artificial insemination (AI), parturition and weaning time in 3 consecutive cycles. Reproductive performance of does was evaluated based on fertility, litter size at parturition, prolificacy and productivity. Differences in body weight were found only in the 1st cycle, ad libitum fed females being heavier than restricted ones. Nevertheless, body weight variances disappeared in later cycles. No differences were found in perirenal fat thickness. Finally, in ad libitum fed females slight differences were found in plasma levels of NEFAs (452 vs. 258 μekv/L and 527 vs. 306 μekv/L for 1st and 2nd cycles) and BOHB (0.26 vs. 0.03 mM for 2nd cycle), but disappeared in the 3rd reproductive cycle. Fertility, prolificacy and productivity was not significantly affected by the feeding programme. Nevertheless, total litter size showed to be higher in ad libitum fed females at second parturition (8.7 vs. 5.9 kits). Therefore, the evaluated feeding programmes until first AI in females selected by growth rate had no effect on their reproductive outcomes, as the global reproductive performance was not affected.


feeding regimen; metabolic status; reproductive performance; rabbit doe; growth rate

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