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 Procedure
 Results
 Summary
 Table 1 - Effect of litter size...














Group Title: Department of Animal Science research report - Florida Agricultural Experiment Station ; AL-1979-4
Title: Effect of litter size upon growth and feed efficiency in rabbits
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Full Citation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00073106/00001
 Material Information
Title: Effect of litter size upon growth and feed efficiency in rabbits
Series Title: Animal Science research report
Physical Description: 3 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Arrington, Lewis Robert, 1919-
Olson, T. A ( Timothy A )
University of Florida -- Dept. of Animal Science
University of Florida -- Agricultural Experiment Station
Publisher: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1979
 Subjects
Subject: Rabbits -- Breeding -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Rabbits -- Growth -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: L.R. Arrington and T.A. Olson.
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "May 1979."
Funding: Animal science research report (University of Florida. Dept. of Animal Science) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00073106
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 80561013

Table of Contents
    Procedure
        Page 1
    Results
        Page 1
    Summary
        Page 2
    Table 1 - Effect of litter size upon body weight and feed efficiency in growing rabbits
        Page 3
Full Text




SAnimal Science Florida Agricultural
SResearch Report No. AL 1979-4 Experim station
-T Gainesmvyl -
May 199 i L

EFFECT OF LITTER SIZE UPON GROWTH AND FEED 3&y 1 2 o
EFFICIENCY IN RABBITS

L. R. Arrington and T. A. Olson iV. 0j

The number of rabbits born per litter and the number raised to
weaning age varies with breeds and with individual does within the
breeds. Age at breeding, number of previous litters, season of year
and other factors also may affect litter size. Small litters are
not considered economical for meat production and the economic traits
affected by litter size should be understood. The study reported
here involved an analysis of the growth and feed efficiency records
from 119 litters of two breeds which varied in the number raised per
litter.

PROCEDURE

Sixty seven New Zealand White litters and 52 Dutch litters varying
in size from 3 to 9 young were used in the study. The rabbits were
housed, bred and managed using practices similar to those in commercial
production. Feed was a complete pelleted rabbit ration fed free choice
and voluntary feed intake was determined. The young were weighed at 4
and 8 weeks of age and feed efficiency (feed/gain) was calculated as
the amount of feed required to produce the live weight of young at 8
weeks. Feed included that for the doe from time of breeding and for
the doe and litter until the young were 8 weeks old. Statistical
comparisons were made using the analysis of variance procedures avail-
able in the Statistical Analysis System (SAS). The records analyzed
were from litters produced over more than one year so all seasons were
represented in the study.

RESULTS

The means for individual weight at 4 and 8 weeks, total litter
weight and feed efficiency are shown in table 1. With both breeds,
the average individual weight of young was greater in the small
litters than in the large and these weights decreased significantly
as the number per litter increased. New Zealand young at 4 weeks
in the two smallest size litters averaged 20% heavier than those in
the two largest litters, and Dutch rabbits from the smallest litters
were 25% larger than those from largest litters at the same age. By
8 weeks, however, the differences were less pronounced. At that time,
New Zealand young in the smallest litters were 9% heavier and the
Dutch 17% heavier than the largest size litters. These differences in
individual weight in relation to number per litter should be expected
since more milk per rabbit was available to the young in small litters.
Similarly, this difference in milk available should account for the
greater relative difference in size at 4 weeks than at 8 weeks.








SAnimal Science Florida Agricultural
SResearch Report No. AL 1979-4 Experim station
-T Gainesmvyl -
May 199 i L

EFFECT OF LITTER SIZE UPON GROWTH AND FEED 3&y 1 2 o
EFFICIENCY IN RABBITS

L. R. Arrington and T. A. Olson iV. 0j

The number of rabbits born per litter and the number raised to
weaning age varies with breeds and with individual does within the
breeds. Age at breeding, number of previous litters, season of year
and other factors also may affect litter size. Small litters are
not considered economical for meat production and the economic traits
affected by litter size should be understood. The study reported
here involved an analysis of the growth and feed efficiency records
from 119 litters of two breeds which varied in the number raised per
litter.

PROCEDURE

Sixty seven New Zealand White litters and 52 Dutch litters varying
in size from 3 to 9 young were used in the study. The rabbits were
housed, bred and managed using practices similar to those in commercial
production. Feed was a complete pelleted rabbit ration fed free choice
and voluntary feed intake was determined. The young were weighed at 4
and 8 weeks of age and feed efficiency (feed/gain) was calculated as
the amount of feed required to produce the live weight of young at 8
weeks. Feed included that for the doe from time of breeding and for
the doe and litter until the young were 8 weeks old. Statistical
comparisons were made using the analysis of variance procedures avail-
able in the Statistical Analysis System (SAS). The records analyzed
were from litters produced over more than one year so all seasons were
represented in the study.

RESULTS

The means for individual weight at 4 and 8 weeks, total litter
weight and feed efficiency are shown in table 1. With both breeds,
the average individual weight of young was greater in the small
litters than in the large and these weights decreased significantly
as the number per litter increased. New Zealand young at 4 weeks
in the two smallest size litters averaged 20% heavier than those in
the two largest litters, and Dutch rabbits from the smallest litters
were 25% larger than those from largest litters at the same age. By
8 weeks, however, the differences were less pronounced. At that time,
New Zealand young in the smallest litters were 9% heavier and the
Dutch 17% heavier than the largest size litters. These differences in
individual weight in relation to number per litter should be expected
since more milk per rabbit was available to the young in small litters.
Similarly, this difference in milk available should account for the
greater relative difference in size at 4 weeks than at 8 weeks.





-2-


The total weight of rabbits in the large litters obviously was
greater than the total weight of the small litters and the degree of
difference is shown in table 1. Using the two smallest size litters
and the two largest for comparison, it may be noted that the total
weight of the largest litters was more than twice that of the smallest.

Feed required per unit of live weight at 8 weeks was less in the
large than in small litters. Within both breeds, the feed to gain
ratios improved significantly as the number of young per litter in-
creased. This is accounted for primarily by the fact that feed for
the doe must be included and this amount is proportionately less in
the large litters than in small litters.

With the New Zealand breed, feed required per unit gain was 29%
less in the largest litters than in the smallest and in the Dutch, it
was 26% less. It should be noted, however, that the feed efficiency
was calculated to a specific time and not to equal body weight.
Rabbits in larger litters would require a slightly longer time than
those in the smaller litters to reach the same weight and thus would
consume additional feed. If feed efficiency were calculated on the
basis of equal market weight, the improvement in feed efficiency by
large litters would be partially offset. The net improvement in feed
efficiency with large litters, however, is maintained.

New Zealand rabbits were more efficient in feed utilization than
the Dutch. The average feed to gain ratio for all New Zealand litters
was 2.71 and the average for Dutch was 3.24.

The significant improvement in feed efficiency and in total litter
weight of rabbits produced with increasing litter size indicates the im-
portance of producing large litters in commercial rabbit production.
Bucks and does that are to be kept as breeding animals should be selected
from does which consistently produce and raise large litters. Desirable
New Zealand does should produce an average of 8 or more young per litter
and Dutch, 6 or more.

SUMMARY

The effect of the number of rabbits per litter upon body weight
and efficiency of feed utilization of the young was studied in New
Zealand White and Dutch rabbits. Average individual body weight at
4 and 8 weeks of age was greatest in the smallest litters and decreased
significantly as the number per litter increased. Total litter weight
in largest litters, however, was more than twice that in smallest litters.
Efficiency of feed utilization improved significantly as the number of
young per litter increased.













Breed


Table 1. Effect of litter Size upon Body Weight and Feed
Efficiency in Growing Rabbits.


New Zealand
White















Dutch


-3-


No. per Av. Body Weight, grams
litter 4 wks. 8 wks.


599(7)*

598(9)

596(17)

550(14)

547(9)

493(9)

512(2)



554(3)

452(11)

465(19)

431(9)

412(5)

381(3)

378(2)


1719(5)

1686(6)

1691(21)

1719(15)

1648(9)

1583(7)

1506(2)



1272(2)

1203(4)

1182(16)

1106(10)

1083(5)

1054(3)

1030(2)


Litter Wt. at
8 wks., kg


5.2

6.7

8.5

10.3

11.5

12.5

13.5


3.8

4.8

5.9

6.6

7.6

8.4

9.3


Feed/Gain


3.50

3.20

2.71

2.59

2.51

2.43

2.10


3.74

3.88

3.48

2.89

2.86

2.90

2.70


*Figures in parenthesis represent number of litters.




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