Use of dehydrated sainfoin in rabbit feeding. Effects of a moderate dietary incorporation on performance and health of does and growing rabbits under an optimal farming environment
Keywords:dehydrated sainfoin, performance, growing rabbits, reproductive does, mortality
The effects of a moderate incorporation of dehydrated sainfoin Perly cultivar (DS) in rabbit feeds on the performance and health of reproductive and growing rabbits were analysed over two consecutive reproductive cycles in a professional breeding environment. Two groups of 192 does and associated litters were fed isonutritive feeds containing either 0 or 13% dehydrated sainfoin (respectively C (control) vs. S (“sainfoin”) groups) in replacement mainly of dehydrated alfalfa. Growing rabbit feeds C and S included 0 and 15.6% safoin, respectively. Doe live weight, number of live rabbits at birth and stillborn rate were not affected by dietary DS incorporation. In cycle 1, fertility rate was 10% higher for the S-group, but was similar among the groups in the 2nd cycle (significant interaction). Incorporation of DS had no impact on kit growth before weaning, but improved the post-weaning growth rate by 6% (P<0.001) and the feed conversion ratio by 7%. Dietary DS incorporation had no effect on doe mortality, which was very low (<2%, P=0.07). Doe culling was half lower with sainfoin incorporation in cycle 1 (25% in group C vs. 12% in group S; P<0.05). In cycle 2, doe culling rate was low (3.2%) and similar among diets (significant interaction between diet and cycle effects). Pre-weaning mortality of kits was low and slightly higher for S-group (1.1 vs. 1.5%). Post-weaning mortality was also low and was reduced with sainfoin dietary incorporation (3.0 vs. 1.8%; P<0.001). A moderate incorporation of dehydrated sainfoin can be recommended for growing rabbits and for reproducing does feeds.
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