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Infection severity and persistence in a host population is affected by variation in host susceptibility. External disturbance can exacerbate/reduce individual variation by affecting the interactions between the host and its parasites and the dynamics of infection and transmission. We investigated the impact of three sources of disturbance (climate change, the presence of a second parasite species and anthelmintic treatment) on the dynamics of infection and shedding of three common parasites of the rabbit. Data were collected from long-term field studies and laboratory experiments and analysed using mathematical modelling and analytical tools. Our studies show that they all affect host–parasite interactions by altering the intensity of infection and/or the degree of parasite shedding. They also generate patterns of infections that could not have been predicted in the absence of these disturbances or from performing analyses at a different temporal scale. Modelling simulations confirmed the complexity of the processes involved and identified the critical interactions shaping the patterns observed.
The main purpose of this study was to find several early factors affecting stayability in rabbit females. To reach this goal, 203 females were used from their first artificial insemination to their sixth parturition. Throughout that period, 48 traits were recorded, considered to be performance, metabolic and immunological indicators. These traits were initially recorded in females’ first reproductive cycle. Later, removed females due to death or culling and those that were non-removed were identified. A first analysis was used to explore whether it was possible to classify females between those reaching and those not reaching up to the mean lifespan of a rabbit female (the fifth reproductive) cycle using information from the first reproductive cycle. The analysis results showed that 97% of the non-removed females were classified correctly, whereas only 60% of the removed females were classified as animals to be removed. The reason for this difference lies in the model’s characteristics, which was designed using early traits and was able to classify only the cases in which females would be removed due to performance, metabolic or immunologic imbalances in their early lives. Our results suggest that the model defines the necessary conditions, but not the sufficient ones, for females to remain alive in the herd. The aim of a second analysis was to find out the main early differences between the non-removed and removed females. The live weights records taken in the first cycle indicated that the females removed in their first cycle were lighter, while those removed in their second cycle were heavier with longer stayability (−203 and +202 g on average, respectively; P < 0.05). Non-removed females showed higher glucose and lower beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations in the first cycle than the removed females (+4.8 and −10.7%, respectively; P < 0.05). The average lymphocytes B counts in the first cycle were 22.7% higher in the non-removed females group (P < 0.05). The females removed in the first reproductive cycle presented a higher granulocytes/lymphocytes ratio in this cycle than those that at least reached the second cycle (4.81 v. 1.66; P < 0.001). Consequently, non-removed females at sixth parturition offered adequate body development and energy levels, less immunological stress and a more mature immune function in the first reproductive cycle. The females that deviated from this pattern were at higher risk of being removed from the herd.
Lupine seeds have the potential to be an alternative to imported dietary proteins. In rabbits, it has been indicated that White lupine seed (WLS) is a suitable protein source. Other lupine species, for example, narrow-leaved lupine seed (NLS), have not yet been tested in rabbit diets. Two experiments were carried out to evaluate the effect of the dietary inclusion of NLS on growth performance, sanitary risk index (SRI), coefficients of total tract apparent digestibility (CTTAD) and nitrogen output in fattening rabbits. Narrow-leaved lupine was compared with WLS as a main protein source. For Experiment I, a total of 198 Hyplus rabbits (37 days of age) were allocated into two groups (99 rabbits per group), fed the WLS I diet (120 g/kg of WLS cv. Amiga) or the NLS I diet (150 g/kg of NLS cv. Probor), and used for performance and carcass trait evaluations. In addition, the CTTAD of the diets and the nitrogen output were determined in 10 Hyplus rabbits per treatment (37 days of age). For Experiment II, a total of 180 Hyplus rabbits (32 days of age) were allocated into two groups (90 rabbits per group), fed the WLS II diet (120 g/kg of WLS cv. Amiga) or the NLS II diet (130 g/kg of NLS cv. Primadona), and used for performance and carcass trait evaluations. In addition, the CTTAD of the diets was determined in 10 Hyplus rabbits per treatment (32 days of age). Regardless of the treatment, the dietary inclusion of NLS had a negative effect on growth of the rabbits. The nitrogen excretion and coefficients of nitrogen retention of rabbits were not affected by the treatments. In Experiment I, SRI (37 to 80 days of age) was higher in rabbits fed the NLS I diet than in those fed the WLS I diet (38.4% v. 23.2%, respectively; P = 0.031). Similarly, in Experiment II (32 to 74 days of age), SRI was higher in rabbits fed the NLS II diet than in rabbits fed the WLS II diet (37.8% v. 23.3%, respectively; P = 0.052). In conclusion, regardless of the variety, the dietary inclusion of NLS had no negative effect on the nitrogen output or dressing-out percentage of rabbits when compared to those of rabbits fed the WLS diets. With respect to the SRI and performance, however, NLS did not provide a satisfactory outcome.
Staphylococcus aureus has been recognised as one of the important zoonotic pathogens. However, knowledge about the epidemiology and genetic characteristics of S. aureus in rabbits was limited. The aim of this study was to determine the characteristics of 281 S. aureus isolated from dead rabbits of nine rabbit farms in Fujian Province, China. All the isolates were characterised by multi-locus sequencing typing, detection of virulence factors and antimicrobial susceptibility test. The results showed that the 281 isolates were grouped into two sequence types, ST121 (13.52%, 38/281) and ST398 (86.48%, 243/281). Surprisingly, the ST121 strains were only recovered from the lung samples from one of the nine rabbit farms studied. In the 281 isolates, the virulence genes of nuc, hla, hlb, clfA, clfB and fnbpA were positive, whereas the sea, seb, tsst, eta and etb genes were negative. Notably, the 38 ST121 isolates carried the pvl gene. All the 281 isolates were methicillin-susceptible S. aureus, and the isolates were susceptible to most of the used antibiotics, except for streptomycin, kanamycin, azithromycin and penicillin, and the resistance rates of which were 23.84%, 19.57%, 16.01% and 11.03%, respectively. This study first described the epidemiology and characteristics of S. aureus in rabbits in Fujian Province, which will help in tracking the evolution of epidemic strains and preventing the rabbit–human transmission events.
Standard feeds are imbalanced in term of n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) ratio, with a low proportion of the latter. The reproductive system appears to be strongly affected by administration of n-3 PUFA, and ingredients rich in α-linolenic acid (ALA; i.e. vegetable sources) or EPA and DHA acids (i.e. fish oil) can be included in animal diets to balance PUFA intake. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of dietary supplementation with flaxseed (ALA) or fish oil (EPA and DHA) on PUFA metabolism in rabbit does. A total of 60 New Zealand White female rabbits were assigned to three experimental groups: control group, FLAX group fed 10% extruded flaxseed and FISH group fed 3% fish oil. Blood, milk, liver and ovaries were collected from the does to assess the lipid composition; furthermore, FADS2 gene expression was assessed in liver and ovary tissues. Reproductive performance of does was also recorded. The fertility rate and number of weaned rabbits improved with n-3 dietary supplementation: does at first parity showed the lowest reproductive results, but the administration of n-3 reduced the gap between primiparous and multiparous does. Feed consumption and milk production were not affected by the feeding regime. The fatty acid composition of milk, plasma, liver and ovaries were widely influenced by diet, showing higher concentrations of n-3 long-chain PUFA (LCP) in does fed with n-3 enriched diets. FISH diet resulted in the highest n-3 LCP enrichment, whereas in the FLAX group, this increase was lower. Blood and milk showed low levels of LCP, whereas liver and ovaries were the main sites of n-3 LCP synthesis and accumulation. Accordingly, although the liver is the main metabolic centre for LCP synthesis, ovaries also have a prominent role in LCP generation. FADS2 expression in liver and ovary tissue was downregulated by FISH administration. In conclusion, the enrichment of diets with n-3 PUFA could be an effective strategy for improving the reproductive performance of does.
The Annamite mountains of Viet Nam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao) are an area of exceptional mammalian endemism but intensive poaching has defaunated much of the region, creating an extinction crisis for the endemic species. To make efficient use of limited conservation resources, it is imperative that conservation stakeholders obtain basic information about poorly known and threatened endemics. We present the first comprehensive information on the ecology, distribution and status of the little-known endemic Annamite striped rabbit Nesolagus timminsi. We used a systematic camera-trapping design to study the species in five areas in Viet Nam and Lao. In 29,180 camera-trap-nights we recorded 152 independent events at 36 of 266 stations. We obtained an additional 143 independent detections across 12 stations from a supplementary non-systematic survey. We analysed activity patterns and social behaviour. We also used single-species occupancy models to assess factors that influence occupancy at the landscape scale. We used N-mixture models to obtain local abundance estimates in one target area. The Annamite striped rabbit was found to be nocturnal and primarily solitary. Species occupancy was best explained by a proxy for past hunting pressure, with no significant relationships to current anthropogenic or environmental factors. Local abundance was 0.57 individuals per camera-trap station for one of our sites, and estimated to be zero at the other site where hunting appears to have been more intense. Our results provide information on priority areas for targeted anti-poaching efforts and give the first conservation baseline for the species.
Oxidative stress is a major cause of defective embryo development during in vitro culture. Retinoids are recognized as non-enzymatic antioxidants and may have an important role in the regulation of cell differentiation and vertebrate development. However, there are not enough reports discussing the antioxidant and developmental capacity of retinoids, including retinol (RT), on the in vitro development of embryos recovered from livestock animals, particularly in rabbit species. Therefore, morula embryos obtained from nulliparous Red Baladi rabbit does were cultured for 48 h in TCM199 medium in the absence of RT (control group) or in the presence of RT at concentrations of 10, 100 and 1000 nM. The developmental capacity to the hatched blastocyst stage, the antioxidant biomarker assay and the expression of several selected genes were analyzed in each RT group. The data show that RT significantly (P<0.001) promoted the embryo hatchability rate at the concentration of 1000 nM to 69.44% versus 29.71% for the control. The activity of malondialdehyde (MDA) level was significantly (P<0.05) lower in the RT groups than in the control group, while the total antioxidant capacity (TAC), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activities were significantly (P<0.05) higher following treatment with RT. Furthermore, RT treatment considerably upregulated the relative expression of gap junction protein alpha 1 (GJA1), POU class 5 homeobox 1 (POU5F1) and superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) genes compared with the control group. The current study highlights the potential effects of RT as antioxidant in the culture medium on the in vitro development of rabbit embryos.
A lack of knowledge about rabbit herbage intake during grazing limits the development of organic rabbit production. This study describes rabbit herbage intake under a wide range of grazing conditions and characterises the factors that decrease rabbit herbage intake and daily weight gain. It was conducted with growing rabbits reared in moving cages with 0.4 m2 of grazing area per rabbit. Rabbits grazed on pastures dominated by legumes (LEG) or grass and forbs (GRF) and received 60 g/day per rabbit of a complete pelleted feed. Three trials were performed in winter, summer and spring. Mean herbage allowance was 27% higher in LEG (62.3 g dry matter (DM)/kg metabolic weight (MW), equal to kg0.75) than in GRF (49.2 g DM/kg MW). Herbage intake varied greatly (36.3±18.0 g DM/kg MW) among trials and was higher in LEG than in GRF (39.5v.34.1 g DM/kg MW). For both pasture types, herbage intake was logarithmically related to herbage allowance and plateaued around 75 g DM/kg MW. Crude protein and digestible energy (DE) intake differed by pasture type and season. Mean CP intake was 40% higher in LEG (15.0 g/kg MW) than in GRF (10.7 g/kg MW). In summer, mean DE intake was 27% higher in LEG than in GRF but no significant differences in DE intake were found between LEG and GRF in winter and spring. Maximum DE intake plateaued near 1000 kJ/kg MW. Daily weight gain was always higher for rabbits grazing LEG (mean=22.6 g) than GRF (mean=16.0 g). Weight gain was significantly related to CP intake, whereas DE intake had no significant effect. Meeting the objective of mean daily weight gain of 20 g requires herbage intake of 32 and 50 g DM/kg MW in LEG and GRF, respectively. Therefore, according to the herbage use efficiency observed in our experiments, herbage allowance must reach 42 and 78 g DM/kg MW in LEG and GRF, respectively. When herbage allowance is lower, rabbits cannot meet the CP intake (13 g/kg MW) required for this weight gain objective.
Peptide transporter 1 (SLC15A1, PepT1), excitatory amino acid transporter 3 (SLC1A1, EAAT3) and cationic amino acid transporter 1 (SLC7A1, CAT1) were identified as genes responsible for the transport of small peptides and amino acids. The tissue expression pattern of rabbit (SLC15A1, SLC7A1 and SLC1A1) across the digestive tract remains unclear. The present study investigated SLC15A1, SLC7A1 and SLC1A1 gene expression patterns across the digestive tract at different stages of development and in response to dietary protein levels. Real time-PCR results indicated that SLC15A1, SLC7A1 and SLC1A1 genes throughout the rabbits’ entire development and were expressed in all tested rabbit digestive sites, including the stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, colon and cecum. Furthermore, SLC7A1 and SLC1A1 mRNA expression occurred in a tissue-specific and time-associated manner, suggesting the distinct transport ability of amino acids in different tissues and at different developmental stages. The most highly expressed levels of all three genes were in the duodenum, ileum and jejunum in all developmental stages. All increased after lactation. With increased dietary protein levels, SLC7A1 mRNA levels in small intestine and SLC1A1 mRNA levels in duodenum and ileum exhibited a significant decreasing trend. Moreover, rabbits fed a normal level of protein had the highest levels of SLC15A1 mRNA in the duodenum and jejunum (P<0.05). In conclusion, gene mRNA differed across sites and with development suggesting time and sites related differences in peptide and amino acid absorption in rabbits. The effects of dietary protein on expression of the three genes were also site specific.
Barnabas 10 offers an allegorical discussion of kashrut. The writer addresses dietary laws in two groups of three: prohibitions against the eating of pig, vulture and eel, followed by prohibitions against eating hare, hyena and weasel. In each case, the allegorical interpretation construes diet as comportment (e.g. one should not behave like a pig, vulture etc.). Concerning the hare, readers are admonished not to emulate its corruption of children – a behaviour linked to its annual acquisition of an anus. Parallel allegorical interpretations of the Jewish food laws can be found in the Letter of Aristeas and Philo, De specialibus legibus 4 and similar quasi-scientific observations about animals occur in texts ranging from the rabbis to Physiologus. However, the rabbit poses a particular problem since no known precedent exists for either its behaviour or its physiology. The present investigation thus focuses on the rabbit, attempting to reconstruct the literary and historical background for its unusual characterisation.
Given the very recent investment in research on organic rabbit production, many knowledge gaps remain. Simulation models based on data from experiments and farms may help generate general principles for organic rabbit production. Our goals were to (i) develop a model to simulate intake regulation and growth of rabbits raised on pastures, (ii) validate this model under a diversity of conditions and (iii) conduct a simulation experiment to predict the potential to decrease the supply of complete feed by increasing the grazing area per rabbit. The model developed (PASTRAB) simulates organic rabbit fattening on pastures in four main submodels that represent dynamics of (i) herbage standing biomass, fill and feed values; (ii) intake of herbage, complementary feed (i.e. complete pellets, cereal–legume grain mixtures) and hay as regulated by herbage allowance, fill and feed values of feedstuffs and rabbit physiological parameters; (iii) conversion of rabbit intake into live weight gain; and (iv) rabbit mortality. The model also calculates gross margin per rabbit sold. Model accuracy was assessed by considering the fit between observed and predicted herbage intake, which was low, with a relative root mean square error (rRMSE) of 51% and 66% on grass-based and legume-based pastures, respectively. However, the standard deviations of observed herbage intake were similar to the root mean square error of predicted herbage intake, indicating that it would have been difficult to improve model calibration. The fit between observed and predicted rabbit live weight was acceptable, with an rRMSE of 11% and 10% for grass-based and legume-based pastures, respectively. Simulated scenarios showed that a decrease in complementary feed combined with an increase in the grazing area per rabbit had little impact on average daily growth and gross margin per rabbit but increased herbage use efficiency. With 90 g of complementary feed per day and grazing of 0.4 m²/rabbit per day, herbage use efficiency was 22%, with average daily growth of 21.6 g/day and gross margin of 18.80 €/rabbit. With no complementary feed and grazing of 1.2 m²/rabbit per day, average daily growth decreased (19.2 g/day), but herbage use efficiency reached 100% and gross margin reached 19.20 €/rabbit. We used PASTRAB in participatory workshops with farmers so that the latter could explore adaptations to their current practices. Overall, farmers considered the model predictions realistic, and some of them decided to adapt some of their management practices immediately after the workshops.
In this study, fresh and frozen–thawed semen of Nitra and Zobor rabbit breeds were evaluated for potential inter-breed or inter-male differences in sperm quality traits. Individual male semen from four rabbits of each breed were diluted (v:v; 1:1) in a freezing medium composed of a commercial diluent, 16% of dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO), 4% of Ficoll 70 and 2% of sucrose and frozen in liquid nitrogen vapours before being plunged into liquid nitrogen. Different motility traits, viability and plasma membrane integrity of fresh and frozen–thawed semen were evaluated in vitro using computer-assisted sperm analysis and flow cytometry. To evaluate the sperm fertilization ability, artificial insemination of fresh and frozen–thawed sperm was performed. Our results showed the effect of breed (P ≤ 0.05) on frozen–thawed sperm viability and plasma membrane integrity. Moreover, individual variability in semen quality among the rabbits was revealed (0.31 to 0.71 among quality traits). Our results thereby confirmed that the cryopreservation procedure could not ensure comparable sperm post-thaw survival for different breeds or males. Nevertheless, correlations between numbers of fresh total motile and progressively moving sperm and several quality parameters measured post thawing were revealed. Therefore, we suggest that the objective assessment of fresh rabbit sperm motility may be an effective indicator of frozen–thawed semen quality. Consequently, regular semen assessment is required in order to preserve good-quality insemination doses from native breeds.
Studies have shown that nutrient requirement of suckling kits is not satisfied, but they can be fed a double quantity of milk (double nursing) resulting in improved BW and weight gain. The aim of our trials was to give additional solid feed during the early suckling period (3 to 15 days of age) when rabbit kits drink exclusively milk. Two experiments were conducted with animals from Pannon Rabbit Breeding Program. In experiment 1 (n=77 does, 734 kits) the does received commercial feed (C) or C pellet supplemented with 0.2 g powdered thyme/kg (CT). Within both dietary groups of the does three groups of litters were formed: no additional solid creep feeding (N); soya bean-based pellet (S); S pellet with 1% added powdered thyme (ST). In group S and ST, cylinder-shaped solid pellets were made. At the beginning (3 days of age) two pieces of pellets were placed daily into the nestbox after nursing. Later on it was increased to six pellets till 15 days of age. The kits consumed the additional solid feed (S and ST), however, it did not affect the BW, weight gain or survival. In experiment 2 (n=30 does, 240 kits) all does consumed commercial feed. The additional feed for kits was based on commercial piglet feed. Three groups were formed: the litters in control group were fed no additional solid feed (K), kits were fed additionally with pellets (8 mm of diameter) based on piglet feed powder, pellet adhesive and water (PI), and extra glycerin powder was added to the mixture of piglet feed powder and water (PG). The experiment lasted from the age of 3 days till 21 days. At the beginning six pellets were placed on the nest material. Later on the amount was gradually increased to 24 pellets till age of 15 days. The kits consumed the pellets. The BW of PI group differed from group PG at age of 5, 9, 12 and 21 days by +7.3%, +6.5%, +5.9%, +4.8%, respectively (P<0.05) and from group K at age of 12 days by +5.9% (P< 0.05). The differences were more expressed at age of 16 and 19 days in favour of group PI (from K by +7.1%, +6.9% and from PG by +5.9%, +5 8%, respectively, P<0.01) and at 21 days of age (from K by +6.2%, P<0.01). To find appropriate composition of creep feed for kits further studies are needed.
Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) play a regulatory role in various physiological processes in mammals and act as endogenous ligands for the G protein-coupled receptors (GPR) 41 and 43. The role of GPR41 and GPR43 in mediating SCFA signaling in the rabbit remains unclear. The present study was to investigate the sequence of the GPR41 and GPR43 messenger RNA (mRNA) and their expression pattern in different tissues and developmental stages in New Zealand rabbit. Comparison of genomic sequences in GenBank using the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool program suggested that the New Zealand rabbit GPR41 mRNA has high similarities with the human (84%), bovine (84%) and Capra hircus (84%) genes. Similarly, GPR43 mRNA has high similarity with the rat (84%) and mouse (84%) genes. Real-time PCR results indicated that GPR41 and GPR43 mRNA were expressed throughout rabbit’s whole development and were expressed in several tissues. G protein-coupled receptor 41 and GPR43 mRNA were most highly expressed in pancreas (P<0.05) and s.c. adipose tissue (P<0.05), respectively. The expression levels of GPR41 mRNA was down-regulated in duodenum, cecum (P<0.05) and pancreas and up-regulated in jejunum, ileum, adipose tissue and spleen during growth. G protein-coupled receptor 43GPR43 mRNA was highly expressed in the duodenum, jejunum, ileum, colon, cecum and lung at 15th day (P<0.05), whereas the expression levels in the pancreas and spleen increased later after birth, with the highest expression at 60th day (P<0.05).
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.
Exposure of rabbit bucks to summer heat stress reduces their homeostasis and semen quality leading to a temporal subfertility. The potentiality of ethanolic extract of Moringa oleifera leaves (M. oleifera ethanolic extract (MLEE)) to reduce negative impacts of heat stress on physiological and semen quality traits was investigated. A total of 28 adult V-line rabbit bucks were randomly distributed among four experimental groups of seven rabbits each. The first group received water (placebo) and served as a control (M0). The other three groups were given orally MLEE at levels of 50 (M50), 100 (M100) and 150 (M150) mg/kg BW every other day for 12 consecutive weeks during the summer season. Chemical constituents of MLEE were detected by gas chromatography/MS. During the experimental period, ambient temperature and relative humidity were recorded daily and were used to estimate temperature and humidity index. Feed intake, BW, rectal temperature were recorded and blood serum biochemical attributes were determined. Semen samples were collected weekly and were analyzed for semen quality traits. Results showed that MLEE contained high percentages of long-chain fatty acids and antioxidant agents. Feed intake and BW were not affected significantly by the treatment, however rectal temperature was decreased significantly by 0.42°C, 0.24°C and 0.40°C in the M50, M100 and M150 groups, respectively, compared with the M0 group. Treatment with 50 mg/kg BW increased concentration of serum albumin (115%; P<0.05), total antioxidant capacity (132%; P<0.05) and testosterone (160%; P=0.098) as well as seminal plasma initial fructose (127%; P=0.092) compared with the control group. Compared with the control, MLEE supplementation with 50, 100 and 150 mg/kg BW increased significantly sperm concentration by 118%, 151% and 158%, sperm progressive motility by 117%, 120% and 118%, sperm viability by 129%, 137% and 127%, sperm normal morphology by 114%, 113% and 114%, intact acrosome sperm by 109% (on average) and sperm with integrated cell membrane by 109%, 123% and 114%, respectively. In conclusion, MLEE supplementation at a level of 50 mg/kg BW could be effectively used to improve heat tolerance, oxidative status and semen quality of rabbit bucks during summer season.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of oat hulls (OH) to substitute traditional fiber (a mixture of rice hulls and mugwort (RHM) leaf) in the diets of fattening rabbits by examining on its effect on the growth performance, coefficient of total tract apparent digestibility (CTTAD) of nutrients, gastrointestinal tract development, cecum fermentation and carcass traits. A total of 160 mixed sex Hyla commercial meat rabbits (40/treatment) were used to study the effects of including OH in the diet from 30 to 80 days of age. A control diet based on RHM and containing 175.2 g crude fiber and 169.7 g CP/kg was included. Growth performance and CTTAD of nutrients were recorded from day 35 to day 80 and day 74 to day 80, respectively, whereas gastrointestinal tract development, cecum fermentation and carcass traits were determined at day 80. Increasing concentrations of OH in the diet increased average daily feed intake (P=0.0018), but have no effects on average daily gain and feed conversion ratio (P>0.05). Moreover, the 150 g/kg OH diet decreased the relative weight of full cecum and cecal content (P<0.05), but did not affect other gastrointestinal organs. The CTTAD of NDF and gross energy decreased with the inclusion of OH (P<0.05). No effects of CTTAD of ADF, ADL, dry matter, CP and ether extract were observed (P>0.05). The concentrations of total volatile fatty acid, acetic and butyric acids were greater in rabbits fed the lower levels of OH (0 to 100 g/kg) compared with higher rate (150 g/kg; P<0.05). However, the proportions of acetic, propionic and butyric acids were not affected by treatments (P>0.05). Furthermore, no significant effect on the ratios of acetic/(propionic+butyric) was observed (P>0.05). Hot carcass weight, pH (45 min, 24 h), lightness, redness, yellowness, 24-h drip loss of longissimus lumborum muscles were not affected by diet OH (P>0.05). However, dressing out percentage increased with higher (150 g/kg) inclusion of OH. It is concluded that OH can be included in rabbit diets at levels up to 100 g/kg, but negative effect on digestion and performance were observed with the increasing of OH (150 g/kg).
Limiting the post-weaning intake of the young rabbit is known to improve its resistance to digestive disorders, whereas a degradation of its housing hygiene is assumed to have a negative impact on its health. This study aims at providing insights into the mechanism of digestive health preservation regarding both host (growth and immune response) and its symbiotic digestive microbiota. A 2×2 factorial design from weaning (day 28) to day 64 was set up: ad libitum intake or restricted intake at 70% of ad libitum, and high v. low hygiene of housing (n=105 per group). At day 36 and day 45, 15 animals/group were subcutaneously immunized with ovalbumin (OVA) to assess their specific immune response. Blood was sampled at 36, 45, 57 and 64 days of age to determine total and anti-OVA immunoglobulin type G (IgG) and haptoglobin levels. The cecal bacterial community was explored (18 per group) by 454 pyrosequencing of genes coding for the 16S ribosomal RNA, whereas cecal pH, NH3 and volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations were measured to characterize fermentative activity. A 30% reduction in feed intake reduced the growth by only 17% (P<0.001), and improved the feed conversion ratio by 15% (P<0.001), whereas the degradation of hygiene conditions slightly decreased the feed intake in ad libitum fed rabbits (−3.5%, P<0.02). As poor hygiene conditions did not affect weight gain, feed conversion was improved from day 42 (P<0.05). Restricted feeding led to a lower mortality between day 28 and day 40 (P=0.047), whereas degraded hygiene conditions decreased overall morbidity (7.8% v. 16.6%; P<0.01). Both a reduced intake and low hygiene conditions of housing affected microbiota composition and especially dominant genera belonging to the Ruminococcaceae family (P<0.01). Moreover, low hygiene was associated with a higher Ruminococcaceae/Lachnospiraceae ratio (3.7 v. 2.4; P<0.05). Cecal total VFA and pH were increased (+19%; P<0.001) and decreased (−0.1 pH unit; P<0.05), respectively, in feed-restricted rabbits. Neither specific anti-OVA IgG nor haptoglobin was affected by treatments. Total IgG concentrations were the highest in animals raised in poor hygiene conditions after 8 days of restriction, but decreased after 19 days of restriction in high hygiene conditions (−2.15%; P<0.05). In conclusion, the degradation of hygiene conditions failed to induce a systematic specific and inflammatory response in rabbit, but reduced morbidity instead. Our results suggest that the microbiota composition would be a helpful source of biomarkers of digestive health.
A novel approach to potentially improve pig growth and welfare is to supplement environments with biologically meaningful odors that are deficient. The post-weaning environment lacks maternal odors that may contribute to the often-observed post-weaning lag in growth and health challenges. A recently reported rabbit maternal pheromone (2-methyl-2-butenal (2M2B)) may act as an interomone in the pig. The objective of this study was to determine if providing a maternal pheromone/interomone during transport and the post-weaning environment may enhance pig performance. A total of 40 replicated pens were used in a factorial arrangement of two transport olfactory experiences (Control v. 2M2B), two nursery olfactory experiences (Control v. 2M2B) and two sexes (barrow v. gilt). Pig body weight, average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI) and gain : feed ratio (G : F) were measured and calculated over a 28-day post-weaning period. Pig sex and application of 2M2B during transport had no effect on pig performance. However, pigs that had 2M2B applied to their feeder at weaning had 15% greater feed intake (0.74 v. 0.64±0.03 kg/day, P<0.01) and 12% greater ADG (0.27 v. 0.24 kg/day, P<0.05) than control pigs. G : F ratio was not different between treatments. The interomone 2M2B is a novel, safe molecule that can improve pig post-weaning performance. This report highlights a new area of study and a natural class of compounds that can improve pig performance and potentially improve pig welfare.