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EFFECT OF LITTER SIZE ON THE BODY WEIGHT OF RABBIT

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ABSTRACT

This study was carried out to determine the effect of litter size on the body weight of rabbit at uniben Teaching and Research farm. Data on the reproductive performance were obtained from Does over a period of six months (April to September, 2012) the Does were mated to vigorous bucks. 

Data obtained were on Does weight at weaning, gestation length (GLT), litter size at birth (LTSBTH), litter size at weaning (LTSWN), average weaning weight of kittens respectively (WWT). litter size significantly affect the pre_ weaning weight gain of suckling rabbits up to point of weaning because rabbits reared in small litters suckled more milk and gain more weight. Litter size at birth in rabbit has been known to be negatively correlated with individual rabbit weight at birth. The result of the analysis revealed that age and litter size of rabbits had significant effects on the mean weight of rabbits.This is because the highest values were obtained for rabbits between 4-6months of age and litter sizes of 2 and 5 rabbits respectively.

Litter size also significantly affects the weight gain of suckling rabbits up to the point of weaning and reduce litter size will help to achieve higher weaning weight and growth rate which will also help to increase their individual birth weight. Maintaining high level of nutrition through the growth period of rabbits will result in growth performance and productive performances of the doe. 



TABLE OF CONTENT

TITLES PAGES 

Title Page --------ii

Abstract --------iii

Certification--------iv

Dedication --------v

Acknowledgement-------vi

Table of Content -------viii

List of Tables --------xi

List of Figures -------xii

List of Plates --------xiii

CHAPTER ONE:

Introduction--------1

1.1Objective-------3

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Litter Size at Birth------ 4

2.2Litter size at Weaning------ 5

2.3 Pre-weaning weight of litter size---- 6

2.4Age at First Mating------ 7

2.5Gestation Length------ 8

2.6 Effect of Litter Size------ 8

CHAPTER THREE: MATERIALS AND METHODS

3.1 Location and Climatic Condition of the Experimental Site-10

3.2 The Management practice-----10

3.3 Data Collection and Analysis-----12

CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS

4.1 Mean Performance of Rabbits----14

CHAPTER FIVE:

Discussion--------19

CHAPTER SIX: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

6.1Summary -------22

6.2Conclusion -------22

6.3Recommendations ------23

REFERENCES-------24



LIST OF TABLES

Table: 3.1. Estimated Composition of Experimental Diet---13

Table4.1: Descriptive Statistics of Reproductive Character of Rabbits Studied- 15

Table4.2: Effect of litter size at birth on post-weaning body weight of rabbits- 16



LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1: Mean weights of Rabbit post Weaning---17

Figure 2: Effect of Litter Size at Birth on Post – Weaning Body 

Weight of Rabbit------18



CHAPTER ONE 

INTRODUCTION

Domestic rabbits are of the descendants of oryctolagus cunniculus specie that is native to the western Mediterranean basin. The rabbit was domesticated recently with most breeds being developed by humans and are not older than 300 years (Lebas and Colin, 1992).

The rabbit has being used as an experimental animal in genetics and reproductive physiology since the beginning of the century but it was not until 1950 that the first findings on quantitative genetics were published. To upgrade the performance of rabbits, breeders should use local rabbits, either native or imported populations that have been locally adapted and make use of genetic variability that is available (source). Priority should be given to research on rural and backyard rabbit production since they require little investment and by using local resources that will be reasonable for production (Finzi, 1992). 

The most strategy of any mammal is to produce offspring and thereby perpetuate the species. Therefore if the high demand for meat in future years will have to be met, much of the increase in production would have to come from short cycle animal such as rabbit which have gestation period between 30-32days and a rapid growth rate that makes it ready for breeding at five (5) months of age and under good management conditions which compares favourable with the growth rate of other animals such as chicken (FAO, 1991).

Rabbit appears to be the most sustainable means of producing high quality animal protein for the expanding populations of the lesser develop country like Nigeria. Rabbit meat consumption has never violated any religious or social taboos, therefore, rabbits seem to have good potential as meat producing animal and also suitable solution to solve the lack of protein, especially when productive and reproductive efficiency are considered.

Therefore, it is desirable that young rabbits are properly managed to prevent delays in the onset of puberty (FAO, 1992). The reproductive performance of an animal determines to an extent, the turn over from animal production and the ratio of its growth rate. Growth rate varies from one breed of animal to another which provides information on genetic variation which will be of help in selecting breeding stock.

Litter size in rabbits varies considerably usually ranging from 6-10 kittens in domestic rabbits. 

Although the milk supply of mammalian mothers is reported to be partly adjusted to variation in litter size by the adaptative stimulation of pre-partum mammogenesis (Fossyth and Hayden, 1977, Jameson, 1998). There is evidence from a wide range of species that an increase in the number of siblings reduces the share of milk obtained by individuals. This result in a negative correlation between litter size and growth rates of dependent kits (Mendl, 1998,Mock and Parker, 1997, Hudson and Trillmich, 2007) There is a clear negative relationship between sibling number and kits growth rates or weaning weight in domestic breeds (Drummond el al 2000) as well as in European rabbits living under natural breeding conditions (Radel et al 2008).

1.1Objective

The objective of this study are to

Determine the mean Litter size and growth of rabbit.

Determine the effect of Litter size in post weaning body weight. 


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