The effect of levels of supplementation on the growth performance of rabbits fed basic forage diets
The pre-weaning litter growth in New Zealand white, California and Kenya white breeds of rabbits, and the 7 weeks post weaning performance on diets of Chloris gay aria hay, maize leaves and sweet potato vines respectively were studied. The forages, fed ad libitum were supplemented with commercial concentrate at three levels. Both genotype and litter size had a significant (P< 0.05) influence on pre-weaning litter weight gain. Mean litter weight gain was 3745.+ 158 grammes with New Zealand white animals having the highest gain of 4020+1657, California with 3908+1494 and Kenya white 3491+1477 grammes. For the postweaning trials there were significant (P<0.05) differences between breeds in liveweight gain. No significant (P>0.05) interaction between genotype and diet was observed. Means of liveweight gain for the New Zealand white and California grower rabbits were not significantly (P>0.05) different. Growth rate was improved as the level of supplementation was increased. Dressing percentage and meat to bone ratio were significantly (P< 0.05) influenced by level of supplementation and both parameters tended to decrease as the level of concentrate supplement fed was reduced. Cost of producing amount of a kg of edible carcass was reduced as the concentrate supplement fed was decreased.