Determination of Tropical Forage Preferences Using Two Offering Methods in Rabbits

  • Safwat, A.M. (Department of Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Yucatan (UADY)) ;
  • Sarmiento-Franco, L. (Department of Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Yucatan (UADY)) ;
  • Santos-Ricalde, R.H. (Department of Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Yucatan (UADY)) ;
  • Nieves, D. (National University of Llanos "Ezequiel Zamora" (UNELLEZ))
  • Received : 2013.03.20
  • Accepted : 2013.10.22
  • Published : 2014.04.01


Two methods of feed preference trials were compared to evaluate the acceptability of 5 fresh foliages: Leucaena leucocephala, Moringa oleifera, Portulaca oleracea, Guazuma ulmifolia, and Brosimum alicastrum that was included as control. The evaluation included chemical analyses and forage intake by rabbits. The first method was a cafeteria trial; 12 California growing rabbits aged 8 wk, allocated in individual cages, were offered the five forage plants at the same time inside the cage, while in the second trial 60 California growing rabbits aged 8 wk, allocated individually, were randomly distributed into 5 experimental groups (n = 12/group); for each group just one forage species was offered at a time. The testing period for each method lasted for 7 d, preceded by one week of adaptation. The results showed that B. alicastrum and L. lecocephala were the most preferred forages while on the contrary G. ulmifolia was the least preferred one by rabbits. The results also revealed that the CV% value for the 2nd method (16.32%), which the tested forages were presented separately to rabbits, was lower and methodologically more acceptable than such value for the $1^{st}$ method (34.28%), which all forages were presented together at the same time. It can be concluded that a range of tropical forages were consumed in acceptable quantities by rabbits, suggesting that diets based on such forages with a concentrate supplement could be used successfully for rabbit production. However, growth performance studies are still needed before recommendations could be made on appropriate ration formulations for commercial use.


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