Department of Animal Health and Production Technology, Federal College of Agriculture, P.M.B. 7008, Ishiagu, Ebonyi State, Nigeria
(Manuscript received 25 December 2017; accepted for publication 9 March 2018)
Abstract. A 56-day feeding trial was conducted to investigate the productive performance, carcass yield and organ characteristics of growing rabbits fed diets containing pawpaw leaf meal (PLM). A total of forty-eight (48) growing rabbits with an average body weight range of 477.01g were randomly divided into four experimental groups of twelve animals each, with four rabbits constituting a replicate. Four experimental diets were formulated and designated as T1, T2, T3 and T4 to contain PLM at 0%, 15%, 30% and 45%, respectively. The four treatment groups were assigned the four diets in a Completely Randomized Design (CRD). Each rabbit received an assigned diet for 56 days. The determined chemical composition of the experimental diets ranges from 90.46-92.91% dry matter (DM), 16.70-17.44% crude protein (CP), 15.40-16.45% crude fibre (CF), 3.29-8.09% ash, 2.30-3.11 ether extract (EE), 49.34-52.89% nitrogen free extract (NFE) and 2550.05-2604.10 Kcal/kg metabolisable energy (ME). The proximate analysis of the PLM revealed 87.67% DM, 17.30% CP, 12.86% CF, 8.88% ash, 0.81% EE 47.82% NFE and 2348.05 Kcal/kg ME. The results on productive performance showed significant (p<0.05) improvement with the inclusion of PLM in the diets for final body weight, daily weight gain, total feed intake and daily feed intake. Similarly, the live weight at slaughter, dressing percentage, loin, back cut and gastro intestinal weight (GIT) were significantly (p<0.05) better and higher for the treatment groups in comparison with the control. It was concluded therefore that PLM is rich in essential nutrients and therefore suitable for inclusion in rabbit ration up to 45% for improved live weight, weight gain, feed intake and carcass and organ yields.