Skip to main content Accessibility help

Improvements in the conception rate, milk composition and embryo quality of rabbit does after dietary enrichment with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids

  • M. Rodríguez (a1), R. M. García-García (a2), M. Arias-Álvarez (a3), P. Millán (a2), N. Febrel (a1), N. Formoso-Rafferty (a3), J. López-Tello (a3), P.L. Lorenzo (a2) and P. G. Rebollar (a1)...


This work attempts to confirm the effect of an enriched diet with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) trying to mitigate the reproductive performances issues such as low conception rate of primiparous rabbits. A total of 127 does were fed ad libitum throughout their two first cycles with two diets with different fat sources: mixed fat in the control and salmon oil in the enriched one, with 3.19 g/100 g (n=63 does) and 28.77 g/100 g (n=64 does) of n-3 of the total fatty acid, respectively. Feed intake was similar between groups (P>0.05). Plasma progesterone concentration was higher in the enriched females than in control ones at 7 (30.9±2.18 v. 23.9±2.30 ng/ml, respectively; P=0.029) and 14 (38.7±2.18 v. 28.2±2.30 ng/ml, respectively; P=0.001) days of first gestation. Considering both cycles, reproductive parameters of mothers (fertility, duration of gestation and prolificacy) and litter parameters (weight at parturition and weaning, mortality and average daily gain (ADG) of kits during lactation) were similar in both groups. However, individual measurements of neonates of enriched group improved 5.87%, 7.10% and 18.01% (P<0.05) in terms of crown-rump length, biparietal and thoracic diameters, respectively, compared to control ones at first parturition. It is noteworthy that at the second insemination, critical point in rabbit, fertility rate of enriched group did not decline as sharply as in the control group (89.7% v. 76.6%, respectively; P=0.067), although ADG and littler weight were slightly lower at the second lactation after PUFA enrichment (P<0.05). Total PUFA and unsaturated index of milk of enriched does group were significantly elevated than in control one (33.3±0.02 v. 23.2±0.02 g/100 g and 1.20±0.00 v. 0.86±0.00, respectively; P<0.05). Finally, plasma progesterone, ovulation rate, fertility and embryo development at 3.5 days after the artificial insemination were similar between diets (P>0.05), but embryo apoptosis rate was higher in control group than in enriched one (31.1±4.56% v. 17.1±3.87%, respectively; P<0.05). In conclusion, dietary PUFA enrichment from the rearing and throughout two productive cycles improved plasma progesterone during pregnancy, fertility, milk fatty acid profile and neonates development of primiparous supporting the beneficial effect of n-3 PUFA supplementation in rabbit does.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Arias-Álvarez, M, García-García, RM, Rebollar, PG, Nicodemus, N, Millán, P, Revuelta, L and Lorenzo, PL 2010. Follicular, oocyte and embryo features related to metabolic status in primiparous lactating does fed with high-fibre rearing diets. Reproduction in Domestic Animals 45, e91e100.
Arias-Álvarez, M, García-García, RM, Rebollar, PG, Revuelta, L, Millán, P and Lorenzo, PL 2009. Influence of metabolic status on oocyte quality and follicular characteristics at different postpartum periods in primiparous rabbit does. Theriogenology 72, 612623.
Ashworth, CJ, Toma, LM and Hunter, MG 2009. Nutritional effects on oocyte and embryo development in mammals: implications for reproductive efficiency and environmental sustainability. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364, 33513361.
Association of Official Analytical Chemists International (AOAC) 2000. OfficialMethods of Analysis of the AOAC International, 17th edition. AOAC International, Galthersburg, MD, USA.
Bautista, A, García-Torres, E, Martínez-Gómez, M and Hudson, R 2008. Do newborn domestic rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus compete for thermally advantageous positions in the litter huddle? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 62, 331339.
Bernardi, JR, Escobar, RDS, Ferreira, C and Silveira, PP 2012. Fetal and neonatal levels of omega-3: effects on neurodevelopment, nutrition, and growth. The Scientific World Journal 202473, 8.
Castellini, C, Dal Bosco, A and Cardinali, C 2006. Long-term effect of postweaning rhythm on the body fat and performance of rabbit doe. Reproduction Nutrition Development 46, 195204.
Crespo, N and Esteve-García, E 2002. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease fat deposition in separable fat depots by not in the remainder carcass. Poultry Science 81, 512518.
Fouladi-Nashta, AA, Wonnacott, KE, Gutierrez, CG, Gong, JG, Sinclair, KD, Garnsworthy, PC and Webb, R 2009. Oocyte quality in lactating dairy cows fed on high levels of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids. Reproduction 138, 771781.
Froment, P, Gizard, F, Defever, D, Staels, B, Dupont, J and Monget, P 2006. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors in reproductive tissues: from gametogenesis to parturition. Journal of Endocrinology 189, 199209.
Fundación Española Desarrollo Nutrición Animal 2010. Normas FEDNA para la Formulación de Piensos Compuestos. FEDNA, Madrid, Spain.
Khan, H., Kusakabe, KT, Wakitani, S, Hiyama, M, Takeshita, A and Kiso, Y 2012. Expression and localization of NO synthase isoenzymes (iNOS and eNOS) in development of the rabbit placenta. Journal of Reproduction and Development 58, 231236.
Kitajka, K, Sinclair, AJ, Weisinger, RS, Weisinger, HS, Mathai, M, Jayasooriya, AP, Halver, JE and Puskas, LG 2004. Effects of dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on brain gene expression. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 101, 1093110936.
Kowalska, D and Bielánski, P 2009. Meat quality of rabbits fed a diet supplemented with fish oil and antioxidant. Animal Science Papers and Reports 27, 139148.
Lin, DS, Anderson, GJ and Connor, WE 1991. High levels of the (n-6) fatty acid 4, 7, 10, 13, 16-docosapentaenoate in the retinas of rabbits are reduced by feeding dietary fish oil from birth to adult life. The Journal of Nutrition 121, 19241931.
MacLaren, LA, Guzeloglu, A, Michel, F and Thatcher, WW 2006. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) expression in cultured bovine endometrial cells and response to omega-3 fatty acid, growth hormone and agonist stimulation in relation to series 2 prostaglandin production. Domestic Animal Endocrinology 30, 155169.
Maertens, L, Aerts, JM and De Brabander, DL 2005. Effet d´un aliment riche en acides gras omega-3 sur les performances et la composition du lait des lapines et la viabilité de leur descendance. In Proceedings of the 11 èmes Journées de la Recherche Cunicole, 29 to 30 November 2005, Paris, France, pp. 205–208.
Manchisi, A, Gambacorta, M and D’Alessandro, A 1991. Studio sulladurata di gestazione e sul ritmo nictemeraledeiparti in coniglie Bianca di Nuova Zelanda. Rivista di Coniglicoltura 4, 3335.
Marei, WF, Wathes, DC and Fouladi-Nashta, AA 2009. The effect of linolenic acid on bovine oocyte maturation and development. Biology of Reproduction 81, 10641072.
Mateo, RD, Carroll, JA, Hyun, Y, Smith, S and Kim, SW 2009. Effect of dietary supplementation of n-3 fatty acids and elevated concentrations of dietary protein on the performance of sows. Journal of Animal Science 87, 948959.
Mertens, DR 2002. Gravimetric determination of amylase-treated neutraldetergent fibre in feeds with refluxing beakers or crucibles: collaborative study. Journal Association of Official Analytical Chemists 85, 12171240.
Rebollar, PG, García-García, RM, Arias-Álvarez, M, Millán, P, Rey, AI, Rodríguez, M, Formoso-Rafferty, N, De la Riva, S, Masdeu, M and Lorenzo, PL 2014. Reproductive long-term effects, endocrine response and fatty acid profile of rabbit does fed diets supplemented with n-3 fatty acids. Animal Reproduction Science 146, 202209.
Rebollar, PG, Pérez-Cabal, MA, Pereda, N, Lorenzo, PL, Arias-Álvarez, M and García-Rebollar, P 2009. Effects of parity order and reproductive management on the efficiency of rabbit productive systems. Livestock Science 121, 227233.
Rodríguez, M, Carro, MD, Valiente, V, Formoso-Rafferty, N and Rebollar, PG 2017b. Effects of dietary fish oil supplementation on performance, meat quality and cecal fermentation of growing rabbits. Journal of Animal Science 95, 36203630.
Rodríguez, M, García-García, RM, Arias-Álvarez, M, Formoso-Rafferty, N, Millán, P, López-Tello, J, Lorenzo, PL, González-Bulnes, A and Rebollar, PG 2017a. A diet supplemented with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids influences the metabolic and endocrine response of rabbit does and their offspring. Journal of Animal Science 95, 26902700.
Rodríguez, M, López-Tello, J, Arias-Álvarez, M, García-García, RM, Formoso-Rafferty, N, Lorenzo, PL and Rebollar, PG 2016. Fetoplacental and organ development in offspring of rabbit does supplemented with n-3 PUFA during pregnancy. In Proceedings of the 11th World Rabbit Congress, 15 to 18 June 2016, Qingdao, Chine, pp. 221–224.
Rosqvist, F, Iggman, D, Kullberg, J, Cedernaes, J, Johansson, HE, Arner, P, Dahlman, I and Risérus, U 2014. Overfeeding polyunsaturated and saturated fat causes distinct effects on liver and visceral fat accumulation in humans. Diabetes 63, 23562368.
Sandler, SR and Karo, W 1992. Sourcebook of advanced organic laboratory preparations. Academic Press, New York, NY, USA.
Segura, J and López-Bote, CJ 2014. A laboratory efficient method for intramuscular fat analysis. Food Chemistry 145, 821825.
Sukhija, PS and Palmquist, DL 1988. Rapid method for determination of total fatty acid content and composition of feedstuffs and feces. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 36, 12021206.
Veshkini, A, Khadem, AA, Mohammadi-Sangcheshmeh, A, Alamouti, AA, Soleimani, M and Gastal, EL 2016. Linolenic acid improves oocyte developmental competence and decreases apoptosis of in vitro-produced blastocysts in goat. Zygote 24, 537548.
Wathes, DC, Abayasekara, DRE and Aitken, RJ 2007. Polyunsaturatedfatty acids in male and female reproduction. Biology of Reproduction 77, 190201.
Xiccato, G, Trocino, A, Sartori, A and Queaque, PI 2004. Effect of parity order and litter weaning age on the performance and body energy balance of rabbit does. Livestock Production Science 16, 239251.
Zerani, M, Maranesi, M, Brecchia, G, Gobbetti, A, Boiti, C and Parillo, F 2013. Evidence for a luteotropic role of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma: expression and in vitro effects on enzymatic and hormonal activities in corpora lutea of pseudopregnant rabbits. Biology of Reproduction 88, 437450.


Improvements in the conception rate, milk composition and embryo quality of rabbit does after dietary enrichment with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids

  • M. Rodríguez (a1), R. M. García-García (a2), M. Arias-Álvarez (a3), P. Millán (a2), N. Febrel (a1), N. Formoso-Rafferty (a3), J. López-Tello (a3), P.L. Lorenzo (a2) and P. G. Rebollar (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed