Effect of Feeding Head Lettuce, Water Spinach, Ruzi grass or Mimosa pigra on Feed Intake, Digestibility and Growth in Rabbits

  • Nakkitset, Supharoek (Royal Project Foundation, Livestock Extension and Development Section) ;
  • Mikled, Choke (Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture) ;
  • Ledin, Inger (Royal Project Foundation, Livestock Extension and Development Section)
  • Received : 2007.10.29
  • Accepted : 2008.03.04
  • Published : 2008.08.01


The performance of growing rabbits fed Ruzi grass (Brachiaria ruziziensis), head lettuce (Lactuca sativa) residue, Mimosa pigra and water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) was studied in an experiment using 64 rabbits (4 males and 4 females per treatment) of 2 breeds, New Zealand White and a crossbred between New Zealand White and native breed. The rabbits had an average initial weight of 668 g, were about 6 weeks old and were housed in individual pens. The foliages were fed ad libitum and a commercial concentrate was fed at a restricted level of 2% of body weight on a dry matter (DM) basis. In the digestibility experiment, the rabbits, 4 per foliage and males only, were fed the same foliages as in the growth experiment but without concentrate. Daily weight gain was lower in the group fed Ruzi grass, 14.8 g/d (p<0.001) compared to 17.6, 18.5 and 18.4 g/d for head lettuce, Mimosa pigra and water spinach, respectively. Feed intake and feed conversion ratio were lowest for the rabbits fed water spinach, 66 g DM/d and 3.6 kg DM/kg live weight, respectively. The New Zealand White breed had a higher daily gain than the crossbred rabbits (p<0.05), 18.0 and 16.7 g/d, respectively. There were no significant differences in feed intake, growth or feed conversion ratio due to sex. The digestibility coefficients of DM, organic matter, crude protein, crude fiber, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber were significantly lower (p<0.001) in the rabbits fed Ruzi grass. Breed and sex had no effect on digestibility. In conclusion, feeding head lettuce residue, Mimosa pigra and water spinach resulted in higher growth rate and digestibility than feeding Ruzi grass and can be recommended as alternative feeds.


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