Potential of Gmelina leaf meal diets on the productive and physiological characteristics of growing rabbits

P.C. Jiwuba1*, U.O. Ikpe2, N.L. Azodo1

1Department of Animal Production Technology, Federal College of Agriculture, P.M.B. 7008, Ishiagu, Ebonyi State, Nigeria 2Department of Animal Production Technology, Federal College of Land Resources Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria

(Manuscript received 2 January 2020; accepted for publication 4 March 2020)

Abstract. Rabbit production is highly attracting attention in the world today due to its reputation in supplying one of the safest meat and other useful animal products. Hence, a 49-day study was carried out to determine the feed intake, body weight gain, serum biochemistry and haematological parameters of 80 growing rabbits fed Gmelina arborea leaf meal (GALM) in their diets. Four diets were formulated: T1, T2, T3 and T4 containing GALM at 0%, 10%, 20% and 30%, respectively. The rabbits were randomly divided into four experimental groups of twenty animals each, with five rabbits constituting a replicate. Blood samples were drawn from each animal on the last day of the trial and evaluated for serum biochemistry and haematological parameters. Results on proximate composition revealed that the nutrient requirements were met. Feed intake and body weight gain (p<0.05) were improved in T4 in comparison with other groups. Feed conversion ratio was however best for T3 and T4 (p<0.05). The haematological parameters differed significantly (p<0.05) and were improved at 30% GALM inclusion across the groups. Results showed that all the serum biochemical parameters studied except globulin differed significantly (p<0.05) among the treatment groups. Cholesterol was reduced at 30% GALM inclusion (p<0.05). All the blood parameters fell within the physiological range for clinically healthy rabbits; an indication that GALM had a beneficial effect on rabbits. Diet T4 had the best performance data among the treatment diets and is therefore recommended for rabbit enhanced production.