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ISSN : 2456-8643

Title:
REPRODUCTIVE PERFORMANCE AND SURVIVABILITY OF KITTINGS OF THREE POPULAR BREEDS OF RABBITS (Oryctolagus Cuniculus) IN ABAKALIKI, NIGERIA.

Authors:
Nwakpu, P.e. And Ucheji C.c.

Abstract:
Investigations on the Reproductive Performance and Survivability of Kittings of three popular breeds of rabbits (Oryctolagus Cunniculus) in Abakaliki, Nigeria were conducted using seventy two homogenous breeds of rabbits viz- chinchilla (CHI), Newzealand white (NZW) and dutch (DCH). The breakdown showed that there were Eighteen does and Six bucks of each breed at the mating ratio of 1:3 as a replicate group. Eighteen Does were mated to Six bucks in a hierarchical or nested design having Six replicates in each group. The objectives of the study were to evaluate the reproductive performances of the three popular breeds predominant in the area and determine the survivability variations among the genotypes and probably discover if there are phenotypic correlations between body weight and other reproductive traits among the genotypic groups. The does and bucks were fed concentrates at the rate of 255 grammes per doe or buck per day in addition to the constant supplementation of fresh forage and clean water that were provided ad libitum. Abdominal palpation was employed, fourteen days after service for pregnancy diagnosis and the does that failed to become pregnant were returned to the same buck until pregnancy was achieved. The parameters studied were: receptivity, conception rate, gestation length, stillbirth, litter size at birth, litter size at weaning, litter birth weight, mortalities of the punnies, kindling rate as well as body weight of the does at mating, kindling and weaning their kits. Results were affected by many factors including thermal conditions in the rabbit hutches, season, amount of light, conditions of the rabbits as well as the genetic worth of the rabbits among others. There were high percentages of deaths among the Newzealand white and chinchilla breeds, however, the result of the reproductive performance showed that the chinchilla breed was the best whereas the dutch does was the poorest. Nevertheless, the rate of conception was highest among the does of the chinchilla and Dutch breeds. Similarly, litter size at birth, litter weight at birth did not show any significant (P>0.05) differences among the breeds. Result also indicated positive and high phenotypic correlation coefficients among the three breeds except in the body weight at weaning, which showed non-additive genes at work. Generally, the chinchilla displayed the highest fertility and survivability, lower rate of kit deaths, during rearing. The result of this study showed that chinchilla breed recorded 4.65 litters and was the highest among the breeds and could be recommended for mass adoption among rabbit producers in the humid tropical environment of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State of Nigeria

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