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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Nutritional needs of young rabbits and feeding strategy around weaning

INRA Prod. Anim., 16(1), 39-47.

L. FORTUN-LAMOTHE, T. GIDENNE

INRA Station de Recherches Cunicoles, BP 27, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan Cedex

Abstract 
The nutritional needs of young rabbits (20 to 42 d old) and those of lactating females are antagonists. The energy requirements of lactating females are high, while the intake of a low starch and high fibre diet (with low energetic density) before weaning improves the health status of the young after weaning. Several feeding and management strategies can be proposed. If weaning occurs between 28 and 35 days of age, feeding the young a specific diet different from the female’s diet, seems the most pertinent solution but this would imply modifying the caging system. Otherwise, it is necessary to find a compromise between the needs for these two kinds of animals, such as increasing the dietary energetic levels by fat incorporation, without the reduction of the fibre level. This solution should improve the viability of the young after weaning but could also be detrimental to the body conditions of the females. Early weaning (< 26 days) also seems to be an interesting way to propose an adequate feeding for the young as soon as they begin to intake solid feed, and would thus give the females a longer period to restore their body reserves. However, this alternative needs further studies to precisely know the nutritional needs of the young and the impact on their health status.

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