Litter indices of primiparous rabbit does subjected to feed restriction during pregnancy with or without vitamin E inclusion

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A.A. Adeyemo
G.A. Ogundimu
K.R. Idowu
O.A. Adeyemi
O.M. Sogunle
A.M. Bamgbose


Background and Objectives: Rabbits are characterized by high reproductive efficiency (number of offspring produced per doe per annum). Excessive overweight in rabbits has been reported to impair reproductive efficiency. Therefore, different feeding strategies have been explored to maintain body conditions of does. Thus, this study evaluates litter indices of rabbits does subject to feed restriction during pregnancy with or without vitamin E inclusion.
Methodology: Seventy-five (75) rabbits consisting of 60 primiparous rabbit does of 5 months old (1.7–2.0 kg) and 15 mature bucks of 6–7 months old, of mixed breeds (Chinchilla, Dutch, and New Zealand White) were randomly assigned into 12 treatments of 5 replicates each. Rabbit does were placed on two levels of quantitative feed restriction (0 and 15%) at three gestation periods (15–19, 20–24, and 25–29 days) with or without vitamin E inclusion (0 and 300 mg/kg). Data obtained on litter indices were subjected to a three-way analysis of variance in a completely randomized design.
Main Results: The overall interactive effect shows that significantly (P = 0.04), the highest average litter weight at birth, 354 ± 78.8 g was obtained from does fed ad libitum with vitamin E inclusion at 15–19 days compared to other treatments. The higher weight of kits at birth was obtained from rabbit does fed ad libitum with vitamin E inclusion for 15–19 (61.06 ± 0.32 g), 20–24 (62.03 ± 8.56 g), and 25–29 (60.86 ± 0.34 g) days compared to other treatments. While litter weight at weaning was statistically (P = 0.03) highest (3,170 ± 214 g) from rabbit does on feed restriction with vitamin E inclusion at 15–19 days of gestation.
Conclusions: Ad libitum feeding with vitamin E inclusion during pregnancy resulted in higher litter weight and kit weight at birth than the restricted group. Therefore, for better kit weight and viability during kindling, vitamin E should be incorporated in the diet of pregnant rabbit does.

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