Effect of feeding programme before weaning on the production of rabbit does and their kits

Zsolt Gerencsér, Zsolt Matics, István Nagy, Zsolt Szendro


The aim of the experiment was to analyse the effect of the feeding programme between 21 day of lactation and weaning on the production of rabbit does and their kits.  The does were randomly housed in two rooms.  In the first room, a continuous 16-hour light period was applied (16L; n=60).  In the second room, an 8-hour light period was used which was extended by an additional 1 hour light period in the middle of the 16-hour long dark period 8 days prior to insemination (8+1L; n=59).  In both rooms, two sub-groups were formed: in the first sub-group, does and their kits received breeding pellet from parturition to weaning (DE: 10.4 MJ/kg, crude protein: 17.8%, crude fibre: 13.6%; BB group; n=60 does, 228 parturitions); in the second sub-group, the breeding pellet was replaced by growing pellet from 21 days of lactation to weaning (DE: 9.7 MJ/kg, crude protein: 16.0%, crude fibre: 17.2%; BG group; n=59 does, 234 parturitions).  The experiment was completed after 5 reproductive cycles.  As no significant interaction was found between the lighting and feeding programmes, the two effects are evaluated separately.  In this paper, the effect of feeding programme is discussed.  No significant differences were observed between the BB and BG groups for number of inseminations per parturition, body weight of the does measured at parturition and at 21st day of lactation or for litter size.  Changing the pellet in BG group significantly affected the body weight of the does measured at 35th day of lactation (4610 vs. 4530g, in BB and BG, respectively; P=0.016), the litter and individual body weight of the kits at day 35 (BB: 8160 vs. BG: 7834g, P=0.001; BB: 1006 vs. BG: 964g, P<0.001, respectively) and the does’ condition at kindling, as measured by the TOBEC method (E-value: BB: 1922 vs. BG: 1957, P=0.024).  Productivity indexes, expressed as number of kits born alive, number of weaned (at day 35) kits and total weight of the weaned kits per year per doe were similar in the two groups.  Body weight of the growing rabbits was significantly higher in the BB group at the ages of 5 and 7 weeks (984 and 937g, P<0.001, 1651 and 1621g, P=0.008; respectively).  After this period, the body weight of the two groups was the same.  The feeding programme had no effect on the feed conversion ratio and mortality of the two groups.  According to the results, it may be concluded that it is preferable to avoid food changes around weaning.


feeding programme; rabbit does; growing rabbits; reproduction; productive performance

Full Text:



Cervera C., Fernandez-Carmona J., Viudes De Castro P., Blas E. 1993. Effect of remating interval and diet on the performance of female rabbits and their litter. Anim. Prod., 56:399-405. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003356100006450

Debray L., Fortun-Lamothe L., Gidenne T. 2002. Influence of low starch/fibre ratio around weaning on intake behaviour, performance and health status of young and rabbit does. Anim. Res., 51:63-75. https://doi.org/10.1051/animres:2002001

EM-SCAN Inc. 1996. EM-SCAN model 3000 operator's manual. EM-SCAN Inc., Springfield, Illionis.

Feugier A., Smit M.N., Fortun-Lamothe L., Gidenne T. 2005. Interaction entre la composition de l'aliment et l'age an sevrage sur les performances du lapin de chair. In Proc.: 11émes Journ. Rech. Cunicole, Paris. 137-140.

Fortun-Lamothe L. 1997. Effect of dietary fat on reproductive performance of rabbit does: A review. World Rabbit Sci., 5:33-38.

Fortun-Lamothe L., Gidenne T. 2003. Besoins nutritionnels du lapereau et stratégies d'alimentation autour du sevrage. INRA Prod. Anim., 16:39-47. https://doi.org/10.20870/productions-animales.2003.16.1.3643

Fortun-Lamothe L., Lamboley-Gaüzére B., Bannelier C. 2002. Prediction of body condition in rabbit females using total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC). Livest. Prod. Sci., 78:133-142. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-6226(02)00087-8

Fraga M. J., Lorente M., Carabano R. M., de Blas J. C. 1989. Effect of diet and remating interval on milk composition of the doe rabbit. Anim. Prod., 48:459-466. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003356100040460

Gerencsér Zs., Matics Zs., Nagy I., Szendrő Zs. 2011. The effect of the lighting schedule on the production of rabbit does. World Rabbit Sci., 19:XX-XX https://doi.org/10.4995/wrs.2011.944

Gidenne T., Fortun-Lamothe L. 2002. Feeding strategy for young rabbits around weaning: a review of digestive capacity and nutritional needs. Anim. Sci., 75:169-184. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1357729800052942

IRRG (International Rabbit Reproduction Group) 2005. Recommendation and guidelines for applied reproduction trials with rabbit does. World Rabbit Sci., 13:147-164. https://doi.org/10.4995/wrs.2005.521

Lebas, F. 2004. Reflections on rabbit nutrition with special emphasis on feed ingredients utilization. In Proc.: 8th World Rabbit Congress, 7-10 September 2004. Puebla City, Mexico. 686-736.

Maertens L., De Groote G. 1988. The influence of the dietary energy content on the performance of post-partum breeding does. In Proc.: 4th World Rabbit Congress, 10-14 October 1988. Budapest, Hungary. Vol. 3:42-52.

Pascual J.J., Tolosa C., Cevera C., Blas E., Fernandez-Carmona J. 1999. Effects of diets with different digestible content on the performance of rabbit does. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol., 81:105-117. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0377-8401(99)00052-8

Szendrő Zs., Biróné Németh E., Radnai I. 1998. Development of Pannon White rabbit breed and changes in results for production between 1988 and 1997. Zbornik Biotechniske Fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani-Kmetijstvo, 30:125-130.

Vasquez R., Petersen J., Hartman J. 1999. Einsatz eines Mehrphasen-Futterprogrammes bei der Aufzucht von Mastkaninchen. In Proc.: 11th Symp. Housing and Diseases of Rabbits, Furbearing Animals and Pet Animals, Celle. 89-96.

Abstract Views

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


 Universitat Politècnica de València


Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)


e-ISSN: 1989-8886     ISSN: 1257-5011   https://doi.org/10.4995/wrs