Influence of birth weight and nutrient supply before and after weaning on the performance of rabbit does to age of the first mating

Zs Szendro, M. Gyovai, L. Maertens, E. Biró-Németh, I. Radnai, Zs Matics, Z. Princz, Zs Gerencsér, P. Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of the study was to determine the effect of birth weight and the influence of nutrient supply during nursing and after weaning on the performance of suckling and growing rabbits (n = 182). The experiment was set-up using a 3 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. Newborn female rabbits were divided on the basis of their birth weight in 3 classes: low /L/ = 35-45 g, medium /M/ = 53-58 g and high /H/ = 65-70 g. Half of the litters were nursed by one (O) doe and the other half by two does (T). Kits were weaned at 3 weeks of age. From the age of 4 weeks half of the rabbits were fed ad libitum (AL), while the other half were reared on a restricted feeding regime (R) corresponding to 80-85% of the ad libitum feed intake level. Birth weight had a significant effect on the body weight up to the end of the experiment (18 weeks of age). H kits attained higher body weight at all ages (3772 g at 18 weeks of age compared to 3565 g and 3373 g for L and M rabbits, respectively). Significant differences were found in feed intake between 3 and 15 weeks of age, in feed conversion between 9 and 12 weeks of age and in weight gain between 3 and 4 and 12 and 15 weeks of age, in the majority of cases in favour of the H rabbits. Nursing by one or two does exerted the most pronounced effect on the body weight. T kits had significantly higher body weight than O kits up to 15 weeks of age (3306 vs. 3108 g). Differences in feed intake, feed conversion and body weight were only periodically demonstrable between the groups O and T. The feeding regime exerted a significant influence on the feed intake, weight gain and body weight of kits. Significant differences in the feed conversion were found, however, only between 15 and 18 weeks of age. Although AL rabbits achieved better feed conversion at all ages except the period between 9 and 12 weeks of age. It seems that the three factors (birth weight, number of nursing does and feeding regime), especially the feed restriction, could influence the production of does.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-64
Number of pages11
JournalLivestock Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2006


  • Birth weight
  • Milk supply
  • Rabbits
  • Restricted feeding
  • Weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)

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