Free Access
Reprod. Nutr. Dev.
Volume 44, Number 4, July-August 2004
Page(s) 321 - 332
Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 44 (2004) 321-332
DOI: 10.1051/rnd:2004037

Effect of feeding program during rearing and age at first insemination on performances during subsequent reproduction in young rabbit does

Jorine M. Rommersa, Ron Meijerhofb, Jos P.T.M. Noordhuizenc and Bas Kempd

a  Animal Sciences Group (ASG) of Wageningen University and Research Centre, Applied Research, PO Box 2176, 8203 AD Lelystad, The Netherlands
b  Hybro, PO Box 30, 5830 AA Boxmeer, The Netherlands
c  Department of Farm Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht, PO Box 80151, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands
d  Animal Sciences Group of Wageningen University and Research Centre, Department of Animal Sciences, Marijkeweg 40, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands

(Received 11 November 2003; accepted 17 March 2004)

Abstract - An experiment was performed to study the effect of the feeding program and age at first mating on body growth, feed intake, reproductive performance, and culling of rabbit does over three parities, using 155 does of a strain of New Zealand white rabbits. Three treatments were applied. Ad libitum feeding until first insemination at 14.5 wk (AL-14.5) or 17.5 wk of age (AL-17.5), and restrictive feeding from five wk of age until first insemination at 17.5 wk of age (R-17.5). At first insemination, the BW of AL-14.5 and R-17.5 was similar (3 907 vs. 3 791 ± 46 g, respectively), whereas AL-17.5 does were heavier (4 390 ± 46 g, P < 0.001). During reproduction, performance of AL-17.5 was not improved compared to AL-14.5 and R-17.5 does. Al-17.5 does showed a lower feed intake during the first gestation (-25%) and first parity (-10%) than R-17.5, resulting in weight loss (-6%) during the first gestation and decreased litter weights (-19%) and litter growth (-14%) in the first parity. Extended first mating by three wk (17.5 vs. 14.5 wk) but similar BW at first mating did not affect feed intake and BW development during the first three parities. However, the number of live born kits and weight at first kindling, and litter growth in the first parity were improved in R-17.5 (+23%, +18%, and +14%, respectively). Reproductive performance can be improved by restricted feeding during rearing and extended first insemination to 17.5 wk of age. However, the culling rate was not affected by the rearing strategy.

Key words: rabbit / rearing techniques / reproduction

Corresponding author: Jorine M. Rommers

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2004