Effect of Birth Weight and Litter Size on Productive Performance of Rabbits

  • Di Meo, C. ;
  • Gazaneo, M.P. ;
  • Racca, C. ;
  • Bovera, F. ;
  • Piccolo, G. ;
  • Nizza, A.
  • Received : 2003.11.07
  • Accepted : 2004.04.27
  • Published : 2004.08.01


This study chiefly aims to ascertain the effect of birth weight and litter size on productive performance in rabbits. After delivery kits were removed from their mothers for individual weighing and randomly assigned to one of the following three experimental treatments: Group (KT 6) with six tiny kits (about 45 g) per litter (21 litters); Group (KT 8) with eight tiny kits (about 45 g) per litter (17 litters); Group (KN8) with eight normal kits (about 70 g) per litter (20 litters). The litters, separated from their mothers by putting them in a closed cage, suckled one time a day for 15 minutes. Daily milk production was measured by weighing the does immediately before and after suckling; body weight of kits was measured on a weekly basis. At weaning 60 rabbits per group were raised for six weeks to ascertain post-weaning performance and health. Compared with the two other groups, the kits of group KT8 ingested smaller quantities of milk both during the first 3 weeks (497.7 vs. 520.0 vs. 544.3 g, respectively for groups KT8, KN8, KT6) and the following period (261.3 vs. 285.0 vs. 302.7 g, respectively for KT8, KN8, KT6). The differences between groups KT8 and KT6 were statistically significant (p<0.01) in the first period while in the second period also KN8 group showed milk intake different in respect of KT8 (p<0.01) and KT6 (p<0.05) groups. Solid feed intake was significantly (p<0.05) lower in group KT6 (23.1 vs. 26.2 vs. 26.8 g/d, respectively for groups KT6, KN8, KT8). At weaning the kits of group KN8 always weighed more (966 vs. 894 vs. 888 g; p<0.01, respectively for groups KN8, KT6, KT8). After weaning, no parameter considered (daily weight gain, feed intake, feed conversion ratio, mortality and risk sanitary index) was affected by birth weight and litter size.


Rabbits;Birth Weight;Litter Size;Performance


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