Alternative feed resources for formulating concentrate diets of rabbits. 1. Unthreshed grain amaranth seedhead.
The acceptable level of inclusion of unthreshed inflorescence or seedheads of mature grain amaranth plants (GASH) as feed ingredient of concentrate diets of rabbits was examined. Four diets were formulated with GASH inclusion levels of O (control), 10, 20 and 30%, respectively, by partially replacing the levels of oil cakes in the diets. These were fed to rabbits in an eight-week long feeding trial (8 rabbits/treatment) and a digestibility trials (4 rabbits per treatment). The initial weight of the 7-8 week old rabbits was 710 g (adult weight of this population is 1 .8 to 2.4 kg). The proximate composition (g/kg DM) of GASH was: 151 crude protein; 43 crude fibre; 572 nitrogen free extract. lntake and weight gain were reduced with diets containing 20 and 30% GASH but values of the control diet, which were highest, were not significantly higher than those of the 10% GASH diet (daily intake 44 and 37.4 g DM, and weight gain 10.0 and 8.2 g for 0 and 10 % GASH). Feed efficiency was similar for the 4 diets: 0.22 weight gain/g DM feed intake. Dry matter and nutrient digestibility and feed conversion efficiency of the GASH diets were generally high with minar differences among the diets. Haematological parameters and serum metabolites were generally better with the 1 O and 20% GASH diets than with the control diet but poorer with the 30% GASH diet. Higher white blood cell counts were recorded in the GASH diets than the control. Thus, unthreshed mature grain amaranth seedhead can be used as a componen! of the concentrate feeds of rabbits, up to 10% dietary level, to partially replace expensive oil cakes in the diets.
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