Livestock Research for Rural Development 19 (8) 2007 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Effect of different housing and feeding systems on the performances of broiler rabbit in Eastern Himalayan Region of India

S K Das and A K Sikka

Livestock and Fishery Improvement and Management Programme (LFIMP), ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region,
WALMI Complex, Phulwari Sharif, Patna, 801505, Bihar, India
skdas65@sifymail.com

Abstract

Around 3762 data on different reproductive traits recorded from 20 New Zealand White and 20 Soviet Chinchilla breed of rabbit over a period of four years were statistically analyzed. Performance of rabbits was studied under three different housing and feeding systems: outdoor hutch system + pellet feeding (OUT), indoor low-cost housing + 50 % pellet feeding and 50 % roughage feeding (IN-LC), indoor cage housing + 50 % mash feeding and 50 % roughage feeding (IN-Cage)  .

Litter weight at birth was significantly (P < 0.05) higher in OUT than that in IN-LC, but litter size at weaning was significantly (P < 0.05) higher in IN-LC than that in  OUT. Highest litter size at birth, highest litter size at weaning, least service per conception, least age at first conception were seen in IN-LC, whereas highest litter weight at birth, individual litter weight at birth, litter weight at weaning, number of crops per year, least inter-kindling period were seen in OUT. In respect of reproductive performance OUT and IN-LC were equally good. But from economic point of view IN-LC was economically better.

Rabbits maintained in indoor low cost housing and were fed 50 % green roughage and 50 % concentrate pellet feed performed best. This finding is very useful for poor and marginal farmers of India as an alternative source of meat production and as an alternative means of livelihood

Key Words: Feeding, housing, India, rabbit, reproductive performances


Introduction

Rabbit is new introduction as alternative meat producing livestock in NEH Region. Rabbit farming is becoming more and more attractive in the NE Region of India due to high reproductive potentiality, high mothering ability, adaptability in wide range of climatic condition, high genetic variability, high roughage utilization potentiality and low cost of production. But information on reproductive traits under the agro climatic condition of Meghalaya are not available for proper breeding programme and for making breeding policy for commercial rabbit farming by the different State Animal Husbandry departments of this N E Region. So, an effort was made to conduct detailed studies on reproductive potentiality of broiler rabbit under different housing and feeding regimes under the agro climatic condition of Meghalaya.
 

Materials and methods

Selection of data set

Around 3874 data on different reproductive traits from 327 kind lings were recorded from New Zealand White (NZW) and Soviet Chinchilla (SC) breeds over a period of four years in the Rabbit Research Farm of ICAR - RCNEHR, Barapani, Meghalaya,

Design of experiment

The rabbits had been managed under three different housing and feeding systems:

Housing system

In the outdoor hutch system hutches were kept outside under trees. The hutches were made of iron with GI sheet roof and GI wire mash floor with a dimension of 2 x 1 x 1 m with five compartments. Dimension of each compartment in the hutch was 1 x 0.40 x 1 m. Floor space in this system was 0.40 m 2

In the indoor low-cost housing system, the cages were made of wood, kept in low-cost thatch roof house with earthen floor and bamboo wall.. The dimensions of the cages were 0.60 x 0.60 x 0.45 m with a floor area of 0.36 m 2. The most striking feature of this house was that it was very comfortable both during rainy and winter season as materials used for constructing this house were bad conductors of heat. Rabbits suffered least stress in this house.

In indoor cage housing cages were made of GI wire mash, having dimension 0.60 x 0.45 x 0.30 m and were kept on racks made from bricks and cement in a closed building.   Floor space provision in this cage housing system was 0.27 m 2. Light regime in the house was 2 watt / m 2 for duration of 11-12 hours per day.

Feeding system

Composition of pellet feed was crushed maize - 40 %, wheat bran - 22 %, groundnut cake - 25 %, fish meal - 5 %, molasses - 5 %, vitamin and mineral mixture - 2.5 %, common salt - 0.5 %. The proximate composition was DM - 93.0, CP - 15.4, ash - 7.12, EE - 10.3, CF - 10.6, NFE - 56.6 and OM - 92.9 % respectively. (In DM basis).

The mash feed was crushed maize  - 40 %, rice bran - 20 %, rice polish - 10 %, groundnut cake - 22 %, fish meal - 5 %, vitamin and mineral mixture - 2.5 %, common salt - 0.5 %. The proximate composition was DM - 90.04, CP - 14.08, ash - 6.12, EE - 9.87, CF - 10.64, NFE - 59.29 and OM - 93.88 %.

Roughages included vegetables, grasses, tree leaves and fodder crops.  Available green roughage in summer were congo signal grass (Brachieria ruziensis), rice bean fodder (Vigna umbellata); in rainy season were soybean leaves (Glycine max) , sweet potato ( Ipomoea batatas) stem and leaves, guinea grass (Panicum maximum) besides congo signal grass, rice bean fodder; in winter season were cabbage (Brassica oleracea), carrot ( Daucus carota ), radish ( Raphanus radicula ), sweet potato leaves and stems.

Feed and grass were analyzed as per methods described in AOAC (1980) (Table 1).


Table 1.  Proximate composition of different roughages fed to rabbit (On DMbasis except for DM which is on freshbasis)

Name of roughage

DM

CP

CF

EE

TA

NFE

Congo signal grass

27.37

12.15

24.07

3.94

8.39

51.45

Guinea grass

26.72

10.36

27.08

3.78

9.14

49.64

Rice bean fodder

26.61

14.61

32.80

1.24

5.62

45.73

Oat Fodder

25.27

10.00

22.40

2.13

7.45

58.02

Soya bean leaves

18.52

12.40

34.76

8.79

8.28

35.77

Beet with leaves

19.76

8.35

35.62

6.82

10.43

38.78

Radish with leaves

16.38

1045

18.89

6.12

14.24

50.30

Carrot with leaves

10.88

10.22

12.14

8.78

13.16

55.70

Sweet Potato with leaves

21.73

14.08

26.34

2.97

8.26

48.35

Cabbage

19.92

14.32

21.22

3.70

9.30

51.46

Management

All the management conditions were the same. Weaning of kits was practiced at the age of 42 days. Selective breeding was practiced and selection was done on the basis of growth, feed conversion ratio, litter size at birth, litter weight at birth and number of crops per doe per year. In this agro-climatic condition,  rabbits are considered to be productive up to 5 - 6 years of age. However in this study if a doe  was unable to produce crops at least four times in a year and five kits in each birth, that doe was not considered for the study even it was below five years of age. Different meteorological parameters were recorded as per instruction bulletin of IMD (1991).

Statistical analysis

Statistical Analysis of data such as analysis of variance, and critical difference test  was done as per methods described in Snedecor and Cochran (1967) by using SPSS statistical computer package.
 

Results and discussion

Litter weight at birth was significantly higher in OUT than in IN-LC, but no differences between OUT and IN-Cage; IN-LC and IN-Cage were found  (Table 2). Litter weight at weaning was significantly higher in IN-LC than that in OUT, but non-significant differences between OUT and IN-Cage, IN-LC and IN-Cage were observed. Highest litter size at birth, highest litter size at weaning, least service per conception, least age at first conception were seen IN-LC, whereas highest litter weight at birth, individual litter weight at birth, litter weight at weaning, number of crops per year, least inter-kindling period were seen in OUT. In respect of reproductive performance OUT and IN-LC are equally good. But from economic point of view IN-LC (Indoor low-cost housing + 50 % pellet feeding and 50 % roughage feeding) was most economic.


Table 2.   Performance of rabbits in different housing and feeding systems (Mean SE)

Parameters

Outdoor hutch and
pellet feeding  (OUT)

Indoor low cost housing roughage
+ 50% pellet feeding (IN-LC)

Indoor cage housing and 50%
mash + 50% roughage (IN-Cage)

Litter size at birth

5.69 a 0.42   (113)

5.77 a 0.39  (102)

5.70 a 0.28  (81)

Litter weight at birth, g

351.37 a 10.43  (113)

314.26 b 9.76   (102)

342.79 ab 8.61  (81)

Individual litter weight at birth, g

61.71 a 1.76 (113)

54.46 a 2.38  (102)

60.14 a 1.97  (81)

Litter size at weaning

3.84 b 0.22  (81)

4.16 a 0.25  (88)

4.05 ab 2.09  (75)

Litter weight at weaning, g

2028 a 120  (81)

1976 a 112  (88)

1942 a 85  (75)

Service per conception

1.84 a 0.12  (113)

1.76 a 0.11  (102)

1.81 a 0.17   (81)

Inter kindling period, days

82.10 a 3.15  (81)

83.30 a 2.89   (88)

85.12 a 1.22  (76)

Number of crops per year

4.45 a 0.17  (113)

4.38 a 0.10  (102)

4.29 a 0.19  (76)

Age at first conception, days

226 a 5  (113)

219 a 9  (102)

228 a 3  (75)

Figures having different superscripts in a row differ significantly (P < 0.05)

Parenthesis indicates number of observations

It was found that air temperature, maximum temperature, minimum temperatures were lowest, and relative humidity highest, in indoor cage housing (Table 3).


Table 3.  Comparison of micro environment between three housing systems in rabbit farm (Average of  four years)

Housing system

Air Temperature, 0C

RH, %

Maximum
Temperature, 0C

Minimum
Temperature,
0C

Outdoor hutch system

24.81

60.93

26.89

16.45

Indoor low cost housing

23.51

70.88

25.63

15.69

Indoor cage housing

22.75

71.23

24.80

14.73

Mean SE

23.69 0.60

67.68 3.38

25.77 0.61

15.62 0.50

The difference in micro environmental parameters between three housing systems is there but it was not statistically significant. But in Indoor low cost housing all values were optimum, which might be the reason for best performance in this housing system.

Considering reproductive traits, microenvironment and economics, IN-LC  (Indoor low-cost housing + 50 % pellet feeding and 50 % roughage feeding)  was found to be best in the agro-climatic condition of Meghalaya. Rastogi (1996) reported that average litter size at birth and weaning in cage system of housing on pellet and ad libitum grass feeding with New Zealand White breed rabbit was 5.2 and 4.3 respectively in Trinidad, which was similar to the present finding in IN-LC. Sundaram and Bhattacharya (1991) reported that average litter size at birth and average litter size at weaning in Soviet Chinchilla breed rabbit in cage housing and on mash feeding was 7.0 and 5.0 respectively in India. Litter size at weaning corroborated with the present findings. Das and Nayak (1991) delineated that litter size at birth, litter weight at birth, litter size at weaning and age at first conception were 6.56, 334 g, 5.66 and 203 days respectively in Soviet Chinchilla rabbit in wire mesh cage and on concentrate mash feeding in India. Only litter weight at birth and age at first conception corroborated with the values of present findings. However these authors recorded better litter weight at birth in contrast to the findings of Das and Nayak (1991). In a study in Mozambique,  Demeterova et al (1991) reported litter size at birth and litter size at weaning 6.55 and 4.95 respectively in cage housing and forage based feeding, which were slightly higher than the present findings of 5.70 and 4.05 respectively. However, they reported a much lower number (3.30) of crops / year / doe than the present findings (4.29).
 

Conclusions


Acknowledgement

The authors are thankful to the Head of the division for providing necessary facilities. They are also thankful to ICAR for providing funds through NATP to conduct the research. Assistance provided by all the technical persons of the division is duly acknowledged.
 

References

AOAC 1980 Official Methods of Analysis, 13 th Edition. Association of Analytical Chemists, Washington DC, USA

Das R K and Nayak J B 1991 Performance of broiler rabbits under hot and humid condition. Indian Journal of Animal Production and Management 7 (4) : 219-224

Demeterova M, Pereira L and Dade A C 1991 Rabbit Production under tropical condition in Mozambique. World Animal Review 69 (4) http://www.fao.org/docrep/U5700T/u5700T0g.htm

IMD 1991 Introduction Bulletin of Indian Meteorological Department, Pune, Maharastra.

Rastogi R K 1996 Rabbit production in experimental rabbitry in Trinidad. In the proceedings of 6 th World Rabbit Congress, .Toulouse, 9-12 th July, 1996.V-3, P.415-418

Snedecor G W and Cochran W G 1967 Statistical Methods. 6 th Edition. Oxford and IBH Pub Co., New Delhi

Sundaram R N S and Bhattacharya A R 1991 Performances of exotic meat rabbit under the tropical coastal climatic condition. Indian Veterinary Journal 68 (7): 693-694



Received 9 November 2006; Accepted 22 July 2007; Published 6 August 2007

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