Reproductive performance of breeding rabbits fed by graded levels of cassava (Manihot esculenta) leaf meal

T. Ahemen1*, I.I. Bitto1, O.I.A. Oluremi2

1Department of Animal Breeding and Physiology, University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria 2Department of Animal Nutrition, University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria

(Manuscript received 12 March 2016; accepted for publication 21 September 2016)

Abstract. Twenty breeding does and 4 rabbit bucks aged 28 weeks, weighing between 1622 to 1746g ,were used to investigate the reproductive performance of breeding does fed by graded levels of cassava leaf meal (CLM). The rabbits were randomly assigned to four dietary treatments viz: T1 (control), T2, T3 and T4 with CLM inclusion levels of 0%, 10%, 20%, and 30%, respectively, after balancing for live weight. Each rabbit was individually caged and served as a replicate. The feeding trial lasted for 17 weeks. The results showed that does on diet T2 (100%) achieved the highest conception rate, followed by T3 (75%) and T4 (75%) and the least in T1 (66.67%). Average daily weight change and change in weight during pregnancy were the highest (p<0.05) in T4. Litter size at birth was significantly (p<0.05) lower in T4 (2.67), while litter size at weaning was significantly (p<0.05) higher in T3 (3.67). Average birth and weaning weights were significantly (p<0.05) higher in treatment T4. Percentage of still birth was higher in T2 (60%) while pre-weaning mortality was the highest in T1 (5). It was concluded that the inclusion of up to 30% of CLM in rabbit diet may support reproductive performance in female rabbits. It is recommended that further studies on the feeding potential of cassava leaf meal at higher levels of inclusion on reproductive performance be investigated.