Marongiu, Maria Laura and Pinna, Walter and Moniello, Giuseppe and Attard, G. and Floris, Basilio Remo (2006) Rabbit meat production as affected by high temperatures: preliminary results. World Rabbit Science, Vol. 14 (sp), p. 27-28. ISSN 1257-5011. eISSN 1989-8886. Article.
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In recent years, the domestic rabbits have been recommended as a good alternative source of dietary protein for the increasing population in developing countries, but in hot climate regions rabbit production is faced with the heat stress, responsible of remarkable production losses with negative economic spin-off. Aim of the research was to investigate, by daily controls from 6 to 12 wks of age, the effects of high environmental temperatures on: water-to-feed ratio (important index for the heat stress estimation) and daily weight gain of sixty-four New Zealand White x Californian rabbits reared in cages outdoors under canopy (OUT). Resulting data were compared to those of sixty-four rabbits indoor raised at a constant temperature of 20°C (IN). From the statistical analysis no significant correlations emerged among productive parameters and environmental temperatures (variation range 35-46°C). On the contrary, significant differences were found by comparing OUT vs IN rabbits: water-to-feed ratio 3.7 vs 1.7 (P<0.01), 3.8 vs 1.8 (P<0.01), 3.2 vs 2.1 (P<0.05); daily weight gain 29 vs 35.5 (P<0.01), 32.6 vs 36.4 (P<0.05), 24.8 vs 38.3 (P<0.01) determined at 6th, 9th and 12th wks of age respectively. Such results represent the starting point for a wider study aimed to identify the effective requirements for rabbit meat production in hot climate regions, in order to optimise the managerial aspects for feeding strategies, reproduction and infrastructures.
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