ISSN: 0041-3216 (Online), 0041-3216 (Print)
Volume 91 Number 3
The performance of growing rabbits fed a commercial concentrate with different forages under humid tropical conditions. (173)
In Trinidad and Tobago rabbit production is now shifting from small back yard production systems to medium sized intensive production systems. However, farmers are faced with the escalation in grain prices, and the locally available commercial rabbit concentrate does not appear to satisfy the crude fiber requirements for rabbits. This trial was conducted to study the effects of supplementing concentrate with three common locally available forages used by small scale farmers; tanner grass (Brachiaria arrecta), rabbit meat (Alternanthera tenella) or tropical kudzu (Pueraria phaseolodies). Forty five weaned male, New Zealand x California rabbits approximately six weeks old with a live weight range of 550 – 1100g, housed at a stocking density of 7.9 animals / m2corresponding to 3 rabbits per cage (76x50x40cm )were used. They were blocked according to live weight into three treatment groups with 5 replicates each. Commercial Concentrate was fed at a rate of 100g/head /day and forages were offered ad libitum; all forages were wilted for 24 hours before it was offered. The duration of the trial was for 49 days. There were no differences (p>0.05) in the average daily gain among the treatments: 30.1, 29.9 and 31.6 ± 0.99g for Tanner grass (T3), Rabbit meat (T2) and Kudzu (T1), respectively. However, there were significant differences in the total daily Dry Matter intake (p= 0.00) and in the feed conversation ratio (p= 0.031) among treatments, 101.7, 95.3, 93.9 g/d and FCR 3.42, 3.26 and 2.98g DMI/g LW gainfor T3, T2, and T1, respectively. However a substitution effect was noticed for concentrate and forages and all 3 treatments generated a 1:2 concentrate to forage intake ratio. Mortality was experienced but did not differ between treatments. It was concluded that the forages used by the small scale rabbit producer can be fed with concentrate in the intensive rabbit production system in Trinidad.
Keywords: Forages, Tanner Grass, Tropical kudzu, Rabbit meat, Concentrate, Trinidad, Rabbits, Tropical environment