Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (9) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Evaluation of litter traits in Sudanese rabbits

K M Elamin and I A Yousif*

Department of Animal Breeding, Faculty of Animal Production,
University of Gezira, Al-Managil, Postal code 20, Sudan
Khalid1130@yahoo.com
* Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Faculty of Animal Production,
University of Khartoum, Shambat, Postal code 1334,Sudan
Yousifi_2002@yahoo.com

Abstract

This experiment was conducted to evaluate litter productive and reproductive traits of the local rabbits of Sudan under relatively improved managerial conditions. ِA total of 665 kits obtained from 60 dams and 20 sires in two consecutive batches were used in this study.

The least squares means for  number born alive (BL), litter weight at birth (LWB), kit weight at birth (KWB), litter size at weaning (LSW) , litter weight at weaning (LWW) and kit weight at weaning (KWW) were 4.130.22 kits, 1727.80g, 43.71.77g, 2.901.99 kits, 127780.33g and 46620.95g respectively. The coefficients of variations were high (26.25 to 47.2%) except for LWB. The results also revealed that season of the year significantly (P<0.05) affected weaning traits (LSW, LWW and KWW) only. Correlation coefficients among the traits were generally positive and high.

Key words: correlation, kit weight, generation, season


Introduction

One of the advantages of rabbit production in tropical countries is that the animal can be fed with forage and agricultural by-products that are not suitable for human consumption. Furthermore, rabbit production can occupy a vital role in the utilization of fibrous by-products that are not suitable for poultry or swine and forages that may be available in insufficient quantities for raising ruminants (Lukefahr and Cheeke 1990). In Sudan, intensive rabbit farming systems as practiced in Europe and north and South America, and some African countries have not yet been developed which is partially due to the availability of other cheaper meat sources (Elamin 1978). Thus rabbit keeping in the Sudan is not a widespread practice either on a small or large scale. Very few rabbit breeders are in business and are confined to the households. There is a great need to enhance rabbit production and consumption through education and extension units. The small size of Sudan local rabbits, their heat tolerance and low mortality may point to successful environmental adaptation. It has been suggested that Sudan local rabbits may resemble one breed or another due to their different colours, sizes, yield and adaptability (Ahmed 1998). An increased rabbit breeding activity throughout the developing countries has been observed during the last few years (e.g. Oudah 1990, Gharib 2004, Khalil et al 1995, Abd El-Aziz 1998). There is a tremendous need for descriptive data of rabbit populations. Fortunately, relevant economic, nutritional and sociological parameters associated with rabbit production are now becoming available from certain developing countries, such as China, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Tanzania (Lukefahr and Cheeke 1990). Sudan possesses considerable local animal genetic resources including rabbits which need to be characterized on genetic and phenotypic bases. Therefore the objective of this work was to study the litter and weaning traits of the Sudanese rabbits and to suggest a strategy for enhancing their production.


Materials and Methods

Breeding Stock

The base population consisted of 65 female and 25 male mature rabbits that were purchased from five different localities, in the central Sudan. This was done to assure considerable genetic variation among the foundation stock.  Prophylactic doses of anthelmentics and antibiotics were given as injections to the animals upon their arrival at the experimental station. The animals were randomly mated in a ratio of one male to every three females to obtain 665 kits in two consecutive generations. The foundation stock was treated as one genetic group. The second generation was produced by mating of males and females from the first generation. This mating system was done randomly but mating of siblings was avoided. 

Housing and Management

The experiment was conducted in the rabbit unit of the Faculty of Animal Production, Gezira University, Sudan. The mean high and low temperature and relative humidity levels during the experimental period, which lasted for four years, were 40 and 17 C and 66 and34% respectively. The animals were housed in an open sided house made of brick walls, wire mesh supported with metal poles and corrugated iron sheet roof. The house was divided internally into small breeding pens with dimensions of 1057960 cm. These pens were used to house mates (sire and dam) until kindling then each dam with its kits would be transferred to a separate cage (11m) provided with clay pots as nests where they stay until weaning at six weeks . The animals were provided with a formulated ration (Table 1) ad libitum in addition to green fodder (Barseem, Medicago sativa) which was given frequently. Fresh water was also available in plastic containers throughout the day. Food was given daily, early morning, in plastic containers after removing the remaining spoiled food. Feeding and drinking containers were cleaned daily with soap and water. Rabbit houses were cleaned every day and the other from food particles, faeces and any other waste.

Table 1. Rabbit experimental ration formula

Protein, %

%
in diet

 

8.9

10

Grains

47.4

11

Groundnut cake

16

40

Wheat bran

5.3

24

Groundnut hulls

15.2

15

Berseem  hay

16.1 

 

Protein, %

Data Collection and Statistical Analysis

For each dam data on born live (BL), litter weight at birth (LWB), kit weight at birth (KWB), litter size at weaning (LSW), litter weight at weaning (LWW) and kit weight at weaning (KWW) were measured. Animals were weighed in the early morning using electronic balance with 1.0 g precision. The obtained data were analysed by GLM model using SPSS 17 software.

The mdel was: =+Gi +Sj +eij

Where:

=trait studied

= overall mean

Gi= the effect of the ith  generation (where i=1and 2)

Sj= the effect of the jth season (where j=1(summer), 2(autumn) and 3(winter)

eij=the random error term (all factors considered fixed except for the random error term).


Results and Discussion

Table 2 presents the least squares means of the productive and reproductive traits in local Sudanese rabbits .The results revealed that the average value of the total number born alive was 4.140.22 kits per litter which falls within the range of those obtained by Marykutty and Nandakumar (2000) who investigated litter traits in New Zealand White, Grey Giant and Soviet Chinchilla in humid tropics and Khalil (1999) for Gabali rabbits in Egypt. However it is lower than the results obtained by Youssef et al (2008), Iraqi et al (2007), and Hajj and Boutros (1998). The low result in the present study may be attributed to the does being in their first parity.  It has been reported that there is a positive relationship between litter traits and advanced parity until the 6th parity (Abou –Khadiga 2004, Abd El-Aziz 1998 and Hassan 1993).

Litter weight at birth in this study was 1727.80g which is lower than the results reported by Abou -Khadiga et al (2009), Youssef et al (2008) and Abdou et al (2006). This may be attributed to the breed under study being characterized by low genetic merit for body weight and there has been no attempt employed for genetic improvement. 

Average kit weight at birth in this experiment was 43.71.77g. This result is in accordance with the findings of Zerrouki et al (2007) for Kabylian rabbits in Algeria, Saleh et al (2005a) for Baladi Black in Eagypt and Jaouzi et al (2004) for Moroccan rabbits. However it is lower than the results depicted by Saleh et al (2005a) for Californian rabbits and Rashwan et al (1997) for New Zealand White, Black Baladi and V line.

Litter size at weaning in this study was 2.900.199 kits which is close to the results reported by Rashwan et al (1997) for Red Baladi, and Iraqi et al (2007) for Gabali rabbit, higher than the results reported by Marykutty and Nandakumar (2000) for New Zealand White, Grey Giant and Soviet Chinchilla, but lower than the results recorded by Zerrouki et al (2005) for the Kabylian rabbits in Algeria and Sorensen et al (2001) for Danish White rabbits in a temperate country (Denmark). This low result for weaning litter size in the present study could be attributed to the low litter size initially. Season (three seasons i.e. absence or only few days of spring) of the year significantly (P≤0.05) affected this trait with a lower mean estimate reported in summer rather than autumn and winter (Table 3). However Abou- Khadiga (2004) reported non- significant effects of season of kindling on most doe litter traits.

In this study litter weight at weaning was found to be 127780.3g, which is in the range reported by Youssef et al (2008) for Black Baladi and Attalah (2005) for Red Baladi. The result was lower than the results reported by Abou -Khadiga et al (2009) for synthetic line and V line and Khalil (1993) for Danish White rabbits. This difference may be due to larger number of kits being weaned in their work. Season of kindling significantly (P≤0.05) affected this trait with lighter litters being produced in summer. This agreed with Ghosh et al (2008) who reported that winter was the most favorable season for kindling, whereas summer appeared to be the most unfavorable season in terms of litter weigh and size at weaning. 

Average body weight at weaning in this trial was 466133. This result was higher than those  reported by Abdou et al (2006) for New Zealand White ,Californian , Bauscat , Flander and Baladi Black and Saleh et al (2005 b) for V line , Baladi Black and their reciprocal crosses. On the other hand, higher results were reported by Szendro et al (1998) for Pannon White and Danish White and Tag –El-Din et al (1990) for New Zealand White, Californian, Baladi and their reciprocal crosses.

The coefficients of variation for the traits measured in this study were high indicating great variability in the mixed group of rabbits used in the experiment. These results agreed with many authors (Zerrouki et al 2007, Abdou et al 2006 and Attalah 2005).

Table 2. Least square means of productive and reproductive traits in local rabbits of Sudan.

Trait

MeanS.E.

Mini.

Maxi.

CV%

BL (no.)

4.130.22

3.70

4.58

34.8

LWB (g)

1727.80

162

187

30.6

KWB(g)

43.71.77

40.2

47.2

26.2

LSW (no.)

2.90199

2.51

3.30

47.2

LWW(g)

127780.3

1117

1437

43.3

KWW(g)

46620.9

424

507

28.7

*BL=kits borne alive, LWB=litter weight at birth, KWB=kit weight at birth, LSW=litter size at weaning, LWW=litter weight at weaning, KWW=kit weight at weaning



Table 3. The effect of season on productive and reproductive litter traits of local rabbits of Sudan

Trait

Gen

Season

Mean

Mini

Maxi

C.V.%

BL

Gen1

Summer

3.890.331

3.24

4.55

29.5

Autumn

4.100.323

3.46

4.74

39.5

Winter

3.450.308

2.84

4.07

44.3

Gen2

Summer

4.670.834

3.01

6.32

12.4

Autumn

4.670.834

3.01

6.32

24.6

Winter

4.04.289

3.47

4.61

37.1

LWB

 

Gen1

Summer

16111.617

138

184

28.9

Autumn

18311.323

160

205

30.4

Winter

15410.796

133

176

32.9

Gen2

 

Summer

20029.237

141

258

8.66

Autumn

16329.237

105

221

28.2

winter r

16110.128

138

184

28.9

KWB

 

Gen1

Summer

42.52.632

37.2

47.7

18.3

Autumn

47.42.566

42.3

52.5

23.7

Winter

47.92.446

43.1

52.8

29.9

Gen2

 

Summer

43.66.625

30.5

56.8

22.4

Autumn

35.56.625

22.3

48.7

29.6

winter

42.52.295

37.2

47.7

18.3

LSW

Gen1

Summer

2.32a.296

1.73

2.91

40.9

Autumn

3.25b.289

2.68

3.82

37.2

Winter

2.68 b.275

2.13

3.23

55.6

Gen2

Summer

1.67a.746

0.18

3.15

69.4

Autumn

4.00 b.746

2.52

5.48

0.00

Winter

3.52 b.258

3.01

4.03

41.1

LWW

Gen1

Summer

1101a119

863

1338

46.7

Autumn

1400 b116

1169

1632

40.1

Winter

1167 b111

946

1388

43.3

Gen2

Summer

750a301

151

1348

34.6

Autumn

1673b301

1074

2271

18.7

Winter

1571 b104

1364

1778

34.0

KWW

Gen1

Summer

46431.1

402

526

22.7

Autumn

43930.4

378

499

26.0

Winter

47728.9

420

535

36.8

Gen2

Summer

51678.5

360

672

27.9

Autumn

41878.5

262

574

18.7

Winter

48127

427

535

27.9

*BL=kits borne alive, LWB=litter weight at birth, KWB=kit weight at birth, LSW=litter size at weaning, LWW=litter weight at weaning, KWW=kit weight at weaning

**Gen1, Gen2= first and second generations

Means with different letters are significantly different (P≤0.05)

In this study the phenotypic correlations among KBL, LSB, LWB and LSW were positive and significantly high, this was in agreement with Farghaly and El-darawany (1994) and Umesh singh et al (2005). On the other hand, the correlations of KWB and KWW with KBL and LSW were high but in the negative direction which is in agreement with Sorensen et al (2001). These results indicate that selection for increasing KWB and KWW may be accompanied by a decrease in KBL and LSW. Traits associated with reproductive fitness are characterized by low estimates of genetic parameters (Falconer and Mackay 1996).  Such traits are mainly under environmental control and the phenotypic parameters reflect most of the association found among such traits.  

Table 4. Phenotypic correlations among the liter traits of local rabbits of Sudan

Trait

BL

LWB

KWB 

LSW  

LWW

KWW

BL

1.00

0.831**

-0.257**

0.381**

0.390**

-0.301*

LWB

 

1.00

0.194*

0.444**

0.443**

-0.161

KWB  

 

 

1.00

0.093

-0.129

0.297*

LSW  

 

 

 

1.00

0.774**

-0.308*

LWW

 

 

 

 

1.00

0.307*

KWW

 

 

 

 

 

1.00

BL=kits borne alive, LWB=litter weight at birth, KWB=kit weight at birth, LSW=litter size at weaning, LWW=litter weight at weaning, KWW=kit weight at weaning
* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level
 

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Received 18 July 2011; Accepted 16 August 2011; Published 1 September 2011

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