Skip to main content Accessibility help

Nutritive value and anthelmintic effect of sainfoin pellets fed to experimentally infected growing rabbits

  • H. Legendre (a1) (a2) (a3), H. Hoste (a2) (a3) and T. Gidenne (a1)


Alternative strategies to synthetic chemical drugs are needed in livestock and are a key issue in organic farming today. This study aimed at examining the potentialities of sainfoin, a legume rich in condensed tannins, as a nutraceutical that combines nutritive and antiparasitic effects in rabbits. To test the effect of infection with a helminth (I: infected groups; NI: not infected groups) and the effect of substituting 40% of the alfalfa in a control diet (C) with sainfoin (diet S), four groups of 16 weaned rabbits were arranged according to a 2×2 bifactorial design. The sainfoin diet differed from the control by its tannin concentration (1.8% v. 1.0% tannic acid equivalent) and its ADL concentration (84 v. 43 g/kg). For each diet, 16 rabbits were infected with 2125 third-stage larvae of Trichostrongylus colubriformis. Growth, feed intake, feed conversion ratio and nematode faecal egg counts (FECs) were controlled for 6 weeks. A digestibility trial was performed. After necropsy, adult worms and eggs in utero per female were counted and egg-hatching rate calculated. Growth tended to be lower for S groups than for C groups (38.2 v. 39.5 g/day; P=0.06). Feed intake was higher for S groups compared with C groups (+5.2 g dry matter/day; P<0.01), as was the feed conversion ratio (3.2 v. 2.9; P<0.001), probably in relation to the dietary ADL level. Protein digestibility was reduced in S groups compared with C groups (−6.0 points; P<0.001), probably associated with the effect of the tannin concentration. Digestibility of hemicelluloses was reduced in infected rabbits compared with non-infected ones (−5 points; P=0.01). Using the substitution method, the digestible energy of dehydrated sainfoin pellets used as raw material was calculated at 11.12 MJ/kg and digestible proteins at 110 g/kg. The infection did not produce any clinical signs of digestive disorders. No differences were observed according to the diet, neither in the number of adult worms (972; P=0.50), the number of eggs in utero per female (14; P=0.95), nor FEC (400 eggs/g; P=0.57). In contrast, the rate of faecal egg hatching in the S group tended to be lower than in the control (58.3% v. 85.2%; P=0.08). In conclusion, sainfoin seems to fit nutritive requirements for rabbits, supplies a large quantity of fibre and particularly lignins, and limits the development of nematode eggs in faeces.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Nutritive value and anthelmintic effect of sainfoin pellets fed to experimentally infected growing rabbits
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Nutritive value and anthelmintic effect of sainfoin pellets fed to experimentally infected growing rabbits
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Nutritive value and anthelmintic effect of sainfoin pellets fed to experimentally infected growing rabbits
      Available formats


Corresponding author


Hide All
Audebert, F, Cassone, J, Kerboeuf, D and Durette-Desset, MC 2003. Development of Trichostrongylus colubriformis and Trichostrongylus vitrinus, parasites of ruminants in the rabbit and comparison with Trichostrongylus retortaeformis . Parasitology Research 90, 5763.
Blas, E and Gidenne, T 2010. Digestion of sugars and starch. In Nutrition of the rabbit (ed. C De Blas and J Wiseman), pp. 1938. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.
Collas, C, Salle, G, Dumont, B, Cabaret, J, Cortet, J, Martin-Rosset, W, Wimel, L and Fleurance, G 2015. Quelle efficacité d’un apport de sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) ou d’un excès d’azote de courte durée dans l’alimentation du cheval pour lutter contre les strongles digestifs? In Proceedings of the 41th Journée de la Recherche Equine, 12 March, Paris, France, pp. 158–161.
Dalle Zotte, A and Cossu, ME 2009. Dietary inclusion of tannin extract from red quebracho trees (Schinopsis spp.) in the rabbit meat production. Italian Journal of Animal Science 8, 784786.
De Blas, C, Garcia, J and Carabaño, R 1999. Role of fibre in rabbit diets. A review. Annales de Zootechnie 48, 313.
Fernández-Carmona, J, Cervera, C and Blas, E 1996. Prediction of the energy value of rabbit feeds varying widely in fibre content. Animal Feed Science and Technology 64, 6175.
Gidenne, T, Lebas, F, Savietto, D, Dorchies, P, Duperray, J, Davoust, C and Fortun-Lamothe, L 2015. Nutrition et alimentation. In Le lapin. De la biologie à l'élevage (ed. T Gidenne), pp. 152196. Quae éditions, Paris, France.
Gidenne, T and Ruckebusch, Y 1989. Flow and rate of passage studies at the ileal level in the rabbit. Reproduction Nutrition Development 29, 403412.
Hagerman, AE and Butler, LG 1978. Protein precipitation method for the quantitative determination of tannins. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 26, 809812.
Hoste, H 2001. Adaptive physiological processes in the host during gastrointestinal parasitism. International Journal for Parasitology 31, 231244.
Hoste, H, Jackson, F, Athanasiadou, S, Thamsborg, SM and Hoskin, SO 2006. The effects of tannin-rich plants on parasitic nematodes in ruminants. Trends in Parasitology 22, 253261.
Hoste, H, Kerboeuf, D and Parodi, AL 1988. Trichostrongylus colubriformis : effects on villi and crypts along the whole small intestine in infected rabbits. Experimental Parasitology 67, 3946.
Hoste, H, Torres-Acosta, JFJ, Quijada, J, Chan-Perez, I, Dakheel, MM, Kommuru, DS, Mueller-Harvey, I and Terrill, TH 2016. Interactions between nutrition and infections with Haemonchus contortus and related gastrointestinal nematodes in small ruminants. In Haemonchus contortus and haemonchosis – past, present and future trends (ed. BG Robin and S-H Georg Von), pp. 239351. Academic Press, New York, NY, USA.
Hoste, H, Torres-Acosta, JFJ, Sandoval-Castro, CA, Mueller-Harvey, I, Sotiraki, S, Louvandini, H, Thamsborg, SM and Terrill, TH 2015. Tannin containing legumes as a model for nutraceuticals against digestive parasites in livestock. Veterinary Parasitology 212, 517.
Jones, WT and Mangan, JL 1977. Complexes of the condensed tannins of sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia scop.) with fraction 1 leaf protein and with submaxillary mucoprotein, and their reversal by polyethylene glycol and pH. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 28, 126136.
Liu, SM, Zhang, L, Chang, C, Pen, DH and Xu, Z 1992. The evaluation of nutritive values of the feedstuffs and diets for Angora rabbits. 1. The determination of the contents of digestible energy and digested crude protein in feedstuffs. In 5th World Rabbit Congress, 25–30 July, Corvallis, Oregon, pp. 1633–1639.
Maertens, L and Struklec, M 2006. Technical note: preliminary results with a tannin extract on the performance and mortality of growing rabbits in an enteropathy infected environment. World Rabbit Science 14, 189192.
Makkar, HPS 2003. Quantification of tannins in tree and shrub foliage. A laboratory manual. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Marais, JPJ, Mueller-Harvey, I, Brandt, EV and Ferreira, D 2000. Polyphenols, condensed tannins, and other natural products in Onobrychis viciifolia (Sainfoin). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 48, 34403447.
Martin, G, Duprat, A, Goby, J-P, Theau, J-P, Roinsard, A, Descombes, M, Legendre, H and Gidenne, T 2016. Herbage intake regulation and growth of rabbits raised on grasslands: back to basics and looking forward. Animal 10, 16091618.
Min, BR, Pinchak, WE, Anderson, RC and Callaway, TR 2007. Effect of tannins on the in vitro growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and in vivo growth of generic Escherichia coli excreted from steers. Journal of Food Protection 70, 543550.
Min, BR, Pomroy, WE, Hart, SP and Sahlu, T 2004. The effect of short-term consumption of a forage containing condensed tannins on gastro-intestinal nematode parasite infections in grazing wether goats. Small Ruminant Research 51, 279283.
Min, BR, Solaiman, S, Shange, R and Eun, J-S 2014. Gastrointestinal bacterial and methanogenic archaea diversity dynamics associated with condensed tannin-containing pine bark diet in goats using 16S rDNA amplicon pyrosequencing. International Journal of Microbiology 4, 111.
Molan, AL, Waghorn, GC and McNabb, WC 1999. Condensed tannins and gastro-intestinal parasites in sheep. Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association 61, 5761.
Musongong, GA, Chiejina, SN, Fakae, BB and Ikeme, MM 2004. The responses of a tropical breed of domestic rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, to experimental infection with Trichostrongylus colubriformis . Journal of Helminthology 78, 249257.
Paolini, V, Fouraste, I and Hoste, H 2004. In vitro effects of three woody plant and sainfoin extracts on two parasitic stage of three parasitic nematode species. Parasitology 129, 6977.
Paolini, V, Frayssines, A, De La Farge, F, Dorchies, P and Hoste, H 2003. Effects of condensed tannins on established populations and on incoming larvae of Trichostrongylus colubriformis and Teladorsagia circumcincta in goats. Veterinary Research 34, 331339.
Perez, JM, Gidenne, T, Lebas, F, Caudron, I, Arveux, P, Bourdillon, A, Duperray, J and Messager, B 1994. Dietary lignins in growing rabbits. 2 – consequences on growth performances and mortality. Annales de Zootechnie 43, 323332.
Perez, JM, Lebas, F, Gidenne, T, Maertens, L, Xiccato, G, Parigi-Bini, R, Dalle Zotte, A, Cossu, ME, Carazzolo, A, Villamide, MJ, Carabaño, R, Fraga, MJ, Ramos, MA, Cervera, C, Blas, EJFC, Falcao, E, Cunha, L and Bengala Freire, J 1995. European reference method for in vivo determination of diet digestibility in rabbits. World Rabbit Science 3, 4143.
Purvis, GM and Sewell, MMH 1971. The host-parasite relationship between the domestic rabbit and Trichostrongylus colubriformis . Veterinary Record 89, 151152.
Rios de Alvarez, L, Greer, AW, Jackson, F, Athanasiadou, S, Kyriazakis, I and Huntley, JF 2010. The effect of dietary sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) on local cellular responses to Trichostrongylus colubriformis in sheep. Parasitology 135, 11171124.
Saratsis, A, Voutzourakis, N, Theodosiou, T, Stefanakis, A and Sotiraki, S 2016. The effect of sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) and carob pods (Ceratonia siliqua) feeding regimes on the control of lamb coccidiosis. Parasitology Research 115, 22332242.
Saulai, M and Cabaret, J 1998. Limited role of lagomorphs (Oryctolagus cuniculus and Lepus capensis) in the dispersion of parasite nematodes of ruminants. Veterinary Parasitology 77, 301304.
Schoeb, TR, Cartner, SC, Baker, RA, Gerrity, LW and Baker, DG 2007. Parasites of rabbits. In Flynn’s parasites of laboratory animals (ed. DG Baker), pp. 451499. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK.
Terrill, TH, Mosjidis, JA, Moore, DA, Shaik, SA, Miller, JE, Burke, JM, Muir, JP and Wolfe, R 2007. Effect of pelleting on efficacy of sericea lespedeza hay as a natural dewormer in goats. Veterinary Parasitology 146, 117122.
Van Soest, PJ, Robertson, JB and Lewis, BA 1991. Methods for dietary fiber, neutral detergent fiber, and non starch polysaccharides in relation to animal nutrition. Journal of Dairy Science 74, 35833597.
Villamide, MJ, Maertens, L, Cervera, C, Perez, JM and Xiccato, G 2001. A critical approach of the calculation procedures to be used in digestibility determination of feed ingredients for rabbits. World Rabbit Science 9, 1926.
Wang, G-T 1970. Suitability of various species of microorganisms as food for the free-living stages of Trichostrongylus colubriformis . The Journal of Parasitology 56, 753758.
Williams, GAH and Palmer, BH 1964. Trichostrongylus colubriformis (a nematode of sheep and other ruminants) as a test organism for sheep anthelmintics in the laboratory. Nature 203, 13991400.


Nutritive value and anthelmintic effect of sainfoin pellets fed to experimentally infected growing rabbits

  • H. Legendre (a1) (a2) (a3), H. Hoste (a2) (a3) and T. Gidenne (a1)


Altmetric attention score

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