Vitamins in rabbit nutrition: literature review and recommendations
Vitamins are classified in a total of 13 substances or groups of substances. Four vitamins are fat-soluble (vitamin A, D E, and K) and the nine others (vitamins of the B-complex and vitamin C) are water-soluble. The water-soluble vitamins and vitamin K are normally synthesised by the rabbit's digestive flora; but in cases of high risk of digestive disorders (e.g. just after weaning), dietary supplementation may be advisable. In addition, a vitamin C supplementation (25 to 30 mg per rabbit and per day) can help the animal in stress situations (heat stress, ...). The vitamin A requirement is largely satisfied if the diet contains 1 O 000 1 U vitamin A per kg or 30 ppm of p-carotene. Additional provision of vitamin A is unnecessary for growing rabbits and may be toxic to the foetus in pregnant does. The dietary recommended vitamin D level is 800 to 1000 IU/kg. lf the dietary concentration is greater than 2000 IU/kg, abnormal calcification of soft tissues (aorta, kidneys, ...) is generally observed. The recommendation for vitamin E is 50 mg/kg. A diet that contains only 15 mg/kg of vitamin E induces deficiency symptoms (muscular dystrophy, sudden death, reproduction disorders, ...). A massive introduction of vitamin E is not toxic but may improve rabbit meat shelf-life, by reduction of the rate of lipid oxidation.
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