Memorias de investigación
Research Publications in journals:
Effect of late weaning and use of alternative cages on reproductive and growth performance of extensively reared does, suckling and fattening rabbits.

Research Areas
  • Animal production

In the present experiment, the effects of the combined use of long lactation periods (46 days) with alternative cages on the reproductive and growth performance of 104 rabbit does and their litters during five consecutive reproductive cycles were studied. Half of does were housed in conventional polyvalent cages (39 cm x 100 cm x 30 cm) and the other half in alternative polyvalent cages (39 cm x 100 cm x 60 cm), with a raised platform. Half of the rabbit does in each type of cages were weaned at 32 and the other half at 46 days after parturition. Longer lactations affected negatively to body weight (P<0.001), fat and energy content (P<0.05) of rabbit does at the end of the lactation period, but this effect decreased with the number of parturitions. Fertility, prolificacy and doe mortality were not affected by lactation length. Late weaning led to higher litter size (by 8.9 %) and litter weight (by 11.3 %) at the end of growing period and lower feed conversion ratio per cage during the overall experimental period (13.5 %) than standard weaning (P<0.001). These results were parallels to a lower mortality (12.6 vs 17.6 %; P<0.05) of young rabbit weaned later during the overall experimental period. Differences in performances at different weaning ages were only observed during cycles with worst health status (third and fifth cycles) in which late weaning decreased mortality. Type of cage did not affect doe body weight and body condition, mortality, fertility, prolificacy and litter size during the five firsts reproductive cycles. Nevertheless, at day 21 litter weight and feed conversion ratio were 4.2 % higher (P<0.001) and 5.0 % lower (P<0.005) in animals housed in alternative than in conventional cages. Alternative cages also led to heavier litters at 59 days (P<0.01); however, this effect was influenced by density reached in each cycle, as when the density of animals was lower than 40 kg/m2 (cycles three and five), the difference of litter weight between alternative and conventional cages was not significant. From the results obtained it can be concluded that the combined use of longer lactations and cages with higher available surface with a raised platform could be an alternative to improve animal welfare in some productive situations.
Livestock Science
Impact factor JCR
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Datos JCR del año 2013
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Research Group, Departaments and Institutes related
  • Creador: Departamento: Economía Agraria, Estadística y Gestión de Empresas
  • Departamento: Producción Agraria