Marongiu, Maria Laura and Gulinati, Alessandro and Cannas, Antonello (2009) Effect of dietary protein concentration on blood urea level and reproduction efficiency of the lactating rabbit doe. World Rabbit Science, Vol. 17 (4). ISSN 1257-5011. Article.
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In an effort to sustain optimum milk production and overlapping pregnancy, rabbit meat producers often increase nutrient density of rabbit does. This situation may lead to protein intakes in excess of requirements and hypothetically can be associated with a decline in fertility. The effect of dietary protein level on plasma urea nitrogen concentrations (PUN) and reproduction efficiency was assessed through a trial involving 90 multiparous hybrid rabbit does at the same pregnancy stage. At d 27 of pregnancy, the animals were equally divided into 2 experimental groups fed on mixture at different protein levels: 18.5% (CP18.5=45) and 22% (CP22=45) on d.m. Blood samplings (=90) were performed at the same day of AI (12 d pp) and plasma was assayed for PUN. Reproduction efficiency was evaluated by abdominal palpation 12 d after AI to determine the pregnancy rate (PR). CP22 rabbits exhibited significantly higher PUN levels compared to CP18.5 (34.06 vs 24.64; P <0.01). Moreover, PUN concentrations above 30 mg/dl have been associated with reduced fertility: PR increased when does were fed a diet not exceeding in protein content (78.1 vs 69.3 % for CP18.5 vs CP22; P <0.01). The results indicate that high dietary CP may exert an adverse effect on reproduction efficiency by elevating PUN levels in the lactating rabbit doe. Further research is necessary to elucidate how ammonia, urea and some other toxic product of protein metabolism may intercede at one or more steps to impair conception and the establishment of pregnancy.
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