Effects of Dietary Crude Protein on Growth Performance, Nutrient Utilization, Immunity Index and Protease Activity in Weaner to 2 Month-old New Zealand Rabbits

  • Lei, Q.X. (Poultry Institute, Shandong Academy of Agricultural Science) ;
  • Li, F.C. (College of Animal Science and Technology, Shandong Agricultural University) ;
  • Jiao, H.C. (College of Animal Science and Technology, Shandong Agricultural University)
  • Received : 2003.12.19
  • Accepted : 2004.05.31
  • Published : 2004.10.01


An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of different dietary crude protein (CP) levels on growth performance, nutrient utilization, small intestine protease activity and immunity index of weaner to 2 month-old New Zealand rabbits. Eighty weaner rabbits were allocated in individual cages to five treatments in which they were fed diets with CP at 14%, 16%, 18%, 20% and 22%, respectively. The growth performance and nutrient digestibility of rabbits increased firstly when dietary CP increased, then decreased. The average daily gain was the highest and feed conversion rate was the lowest when dietary CP reached 20%, namely 34.9 g/d and 2.74:1, respectively. Maximum CP digestibility was 72.1% in the 18% CP group, maximum crude fiber digestibility of 28.4% occurred in the 16% CP group and was significantly different from other treatments (p<0.01), apparent digestibility of Lys and Val followed the same trend as CP digestibility, and reached their maximum when dietary CP was 18%. Apparent digestibility of Cys, Tyr, Leu and Thr also had a similar trend to CP digestibility. Nitrogen retention (RN) increased with CP level (p>0.05), and was highest for 20% CP treatment (1.5 g/d). The effect of CP level on the rate of digestible nitrogen (DN) converted RN was small. The spleen index, thymus index, chymotrypsin and trypsin activities in small intestine were highest when dietary CP was 16%, which were 1.0, 2.8, 15.7 U/g and 125.7 U/g, respectively. There was no significant difference among treatments (p>0.05). According to the above results, the appropriate dietary CP level from weaner to 2 month-old meat rabbits was 18-20%.


Supported by : Department of Sciece and Technology of Shandong Province


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