The growth and haematological response of growing rabbits to diets containing graded levels of sun dried bovine rumen content (SBRC) were studied. Five diets containing 0 (control), 10, 20, 30 and 40 % sun dried bovine rumen content coded as T1,T2,T3,T4 and T5, respectively, were compared. Twenty growing rabbits were randomly assigned to the treatments; each treatment had four experimental units. The rabbits were fed and watered ad libitum. The parameters measured were feed consumption, water consumption, body weight gain, mortality, feed conversion ratio, feed cost per kg gain, feed cost per kg feed, live weight, dressing percentage, initial body weight, weight of internal organs and haematological parameters. Data collection was done for a period of nine weeks, but the experiment lasted for ten weeks. Statistical analysis was carried out on the data for daily feed consumption, daily water consumption, and daily body weight gain, feed conversion ratio, feed cost per kg gain, and feed cost per kg feed, dressing percentage, weight of internal organs and haematological parameters. There was no significant difference (p> 0.05) amongst the treatment means. Numerically, however, the rabbits on T5 recorded the best water and feed consumption, body weight gain, feed cost per kg feed, weights of internal organs and White Blood Cell count (WBC), while those on T4 had the best feed cost per kg gain and feed conversion ratio. The best Packed Cell Volume (PCV) and Red Blood Cell count (RBC) were obtained with the rabbits fed T3 while T1 had the best dressing percentage. No mortality was recorded throughout the study.
The study indicated that SBRC could be fed to rabbits at 30% level of inclusion since it recorded the best feed conversion ratio and feed cost per kg gain, thus providing a cheaper source of feeding and also helps in reducing environmental pollution.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page ii
Table of Contents x
List of Tables xii
- Introduction 1
1.1 Aims and Objectives of the Study 3
1.2 Justification and Significance of the Study 4
- Literature Review 5
2.1 Reviews on Rumen Content Related Diets 5
2.2 Origin and Distributions of Rabbits 10
2.3 Breeds of Rabbits in Nigeria 11
2.4 Productive Qualities of Rabbits 11
2.5 The Digestive System of the Rabbit 13
2.6 Digestibility of Nutrients by rabbits 16
2.6.1 Fiber 17
2.6.2 Protein and Amino acid Requirement 18
- Materials and Methods 20
3.1 Location 20
3.2 Management of Experimental Animals 20
3.3 Experimental Procedures 20
3.4 Experimental Diets 23
3.5 Experimental Design 24
3.6 Experimental Analysis 24
- Results 25
4.1 Discussions 29
5.0 Conclusion and Recommendations 31
Details of the Analyzed Results 41
Cost of Feed Stuffs Used 49
LIST OF TABLES
1 Composition of the Experimental Diets 23
2 Effects of Treatments on the Performance of Experimental Rabbits 27
3 Carcass Evaluation and Haematological Parameters of
Rabbits Fed the Experimental Diets 28
The need to improve rabbit production in Nigeria for increased supply of animal protein is no longer in doubt due to the high cost of Chicken, Pork and beef. Bamgbose, et al (2004) also supports the necessity of exploring other less common but potential sources of animal protein such as rabbits. Recently, there has been increased awareness in rabbit production. The advantages projected include the high reproductive rate, rapid maturity, high genetic potential, efficient feed utilization, limited competition with humans for food and high quality nutritious meat (Cheeke, et al, 1986). Also rabbits have been introduced into West Africa as farm animals of economic value, low in fat, succulent, nicely flavoured and providing a palatable change for chicken and other meats, (Owen, 1976; Aduku and Olukosi, 1990). It has also been reported by Aduku and Olukosi (1990) that rabbit meat plays an important role in the prevention of vascular disease due to its extremely low cholesterol and sodium levels. This makes rabbit meat a good source of animal protein for coronary heart patients and people on low sodium diet. Rabbit meat also has no religions taboos regulating its consumption.
Rabbits are able to thrive on non-conventional feed stuffs (Omole, 1982) and forages (Aduku and Olukosi 1990). Rabbits are being maintained solely on all forage diets with encouraging weight gains (Selepov, 1964; Perez and San Sebastrain, 1970). However, these investigators used temperate forages, which are known to have on the average higher crude protein and lower fibre contents, (Oyenuga 1968, Miltroy, 1972) and have higher nutritive value than tropical forages. Their utilization of large forage diet had been shown to be limited since fibre digestion is post-gastric in the caecum (Davidson and Spreadury, 1975). Although the rabbit requirement for crude fibre is very high-about 14-25% (Adegbola et al; 1985) when compared with other monogastiric animals, it has been reported that the feeding of concentrate increases feed consumption and crude fibre digestion (Butcher, et al; 1981).
Feed accounts for the dominant input in animal production ranging from 60-70% of the total cost of production (Nworgu, et al., 1999). Similarly, feed ingredient account for over 90% of compound feed industry. Therefore, the relationship between feed ingredient and animal product output is both direct and obvious. It has been observed that conventional feedstuffs are very expensive and scarce, the high cost and scarcity derived from crippling realities that are characteristics of the economics of developing countries. (Esonu et al, 2001; 2002; 2004). Conventional ingredients are expensive since they suffer from stiff competition with channels in the food chain which command higher priority and can pay higher prices than the compound feed industry.