Performance and Carcass Characteristics of Rabbit Bucks Fed Diets Containing Varying Levels of Tiger Nut Meal
This study was designed to investigate the performance and carcass characteristics of rabbit bucks fed diets containing varying levels of tiger nut meal. The study was conducted in the Rabbitry Unit of the Teaching and Research Farm, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria. Thirty-six (36) weaned New Zealand White rabbit bucks of about six weeks of age were used for this study. The rabbits were allowed two weeks pre-conditioning period to acclimatize and dewormed before the commencement of the experiment. The experiment lasted for 8 weeks. Four (4) experimental diets were formulated for this study that met the nutritional requirement of rabbits. Thirty-six (36) rabbit bucks were randomly assigned to four treatments of nine rabbits per treatment and each replicated thrice with three rabbits per replicate in a Completely Randomized Design experiment (CRD). Diet 1 (T1) served as the control diet contained 0% tiger nut meal while Diets 2 (T2), Diet 3 (T3) and Diet 4(T4) containing 10, 20 and 30% inclusion levels respectively. The design used for this study was a Completely Randomized Design (CRD) using treatment as the factor of interest. All data obtained were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) as expressed by Steel and Torrie, (1980). Significant differences between treatment means were separated using Duncan Multiple Range Test (Duncan, 1955). The growth performance of rabbits fed varying levels of tiger nut meal revealed significant differences (P<0.05) in the final weight of the rabbits. The results showed that rabbits fed diet 4 (1498.25) had higher values followed by those fed diet 3 (1365.40). Similar pattern was observed in the weight gain of the rabbits where there were significant difference (P<0.05), rabbits fed diet 4 (1045.0) had higher value followed by those fed diet 3 (915.40). Daily weight gain showed that rabbits fed diet 4 (18.66) had significantly (P<0.05) higher value which was followed by diet 3 (16.34) with the least being diet 2 (14.72). There was significant (P<0.05) difference among the treatments for feed conversion ratio, with diet 4 (3.85) performed better than all having the least feed conversion ratio. The varying levels of tiger nut meal in the diets of rabbits significantly (P<0.05) influenced the live weight and dressed weight. The live weight of rabbits fed diet 4 (1230.0) was higher (P<0.05) followed by those fed diet 3 (1175.0). Dressed weight showed that rabbits fed diet 4 (880.75) were higher (P<0.05) than those fed diet 1 (755.45), 2 (750.35) and 3 (773.60). The results showed that the percentage weights of spleen and intestine were significantly (P<0.05) influenced by the dietary treatments while the weights of heart, kidney, lungs and liver were not. The study concluded that rabbits fed 30% tiger nut meal had better performance in terms of final weight, weight gain and feed conversion ratio. They also performed better in terms of carcass characteristics compared to the control. This showed that tiger nut meal can be utilized by rabbits for better performance without any deleterious effect on the animals.
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