Author(s): Trigo M. S., María Gabriela Muro, A. C. Cattáneo, R. Arias, María Elena Cossú, A. G. Antonini
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of an alternative protein source (hydrolyzed feather meal vs meat meal) and two levels (high:170 g and low:140 g CP) on performance and carcass quality traits in rabbits. One hundred twenty eight New Zealand x Californian rabbits were used, weaned at 28 days of age. The experimental design was a 2x2 factorial arrangement: two sources of animal protein (Control: MM and alternative: FM) and two levels of crude protein (CP: 17% and 14%). The digestibility of diets was evaluated based on 10 animals per treatment (between 49 and 56 days of age), using cages provided with individual faeces collectors. Daily weight gain (DWG), feed conversion ratio (FCR), dry matter digestibility (DMD), feed cost per rabbit and feed cost per kg of meat produced, were recorded. Forty animals (10 for each treatment) were slaughtered at 75 days of age, following the standard procedures of rabbit slaughter. Data were analyzed by ANOVA, GLM, SAS. The protein level of diet significantly influenced weights at 61 days, DMD, FCR and at slaughter, percentage of gastro-intestinal tract, weight of the stomach (full and empty), weight of the full caecum, hot carcass weight and carcass yield. The source of protein significantly influenced feed consumption, dry matter intake, feed conversion ratio, dressing percentage and feed cost per rabbit. Although the inclusion of FM in the diet did not generally affect performance traits, it did affect performance on the protein-restricted diets. The inclusion of feather meal in the diet appears to be the subject of the cost of this by-product when diet is formulated.
Rabbits, Alternative Protein Source, Protein level, Performance
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