Differences in productive robustness in rabbits selected for reproductive longevity or litter size

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  • R Theilgaard, Universidad Politecnia de Valencia, Instiuto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Animal, Denmark
  • M Baselga, Universidad Politecnia de Valencia, Instiuto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Animal, Denmark
  • E Blas, Universidad Politecnia de Valencia, Instiuto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Animal, Denmark
  • Nic Friggens, Denmark
  • C Cervera, Universidad Politecnia de Valencia, Instiuto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Animal, Denmark
  • J J Pascual, Universidad Politecnia de Valencia, Instiuto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Animal, Denmark
  • Disease Mechanisms, -Markers and -Prevention
  • Department of Animal Health and Bioscience

The aim of this work was to evaluate the ability of a line selected for reproductive longevity (LP) to confront productive challenges compared to a line selected during 31 generations for litter size at weaning (V). A total of 133 reproductive rabbit does were used (72 and 61 from LP and V lines, respectively). Within each line, three groups with different levels of productive effort were planned: PP9, inseminated at day 4 after the first partum and with nine kits during the second partum, and inseminated after first weaning (30 days) and with nine (PW9) or five kits (PW5) during the second partum. The reproductive performance, body condition (perirrenal fat thickness (PFT)) and lipolytic response were controlled. LP does showed greater mean live weight (LW; 1128 g; P,0.05), PFT (10.47mm; P,0.05) and estimated body energy (EBE; 10.29 MJ/kg; P,0.01) than V does at second partum. However, LP does that mated at first post partum did not significantly differ in EBE relative to V does at second partum. During the first week of lactation, dry matter (DM) intake was similar for both lines (94 and 95 g DM/kg LW0.75 day for V and LP does, respectively). There was a significant difference in milk yield between both lines during the first week when litter size was nine (60 v. 54 g of milk/kg LW0.75 day for LP and V does, respectively; P,0.01), but no difference when litter size was five. Consequently, when litter size was nine, LP does showed a lower recovery of PFT (0.6mm less; P,0.05) than V does during the first 10 days of lactation. However, when litter size was five, LP does showed a higher LW (1210 g; P,0.05) than V does at 10 days of lactation and a similar recovery of PFT. During the last 3 weeks of the lactation, LP does showed a higher feed intake (16 g DM/kg LW0.75 day; P,0.05) and milk yield (127 g/day; P,0.001) than V does when litter size was nine, resulting in no significant differences in LW at 30 days of lactation. However, when litter size was five, both lines showed similar feed intake and milk yield, maintaining their differences in LW at 30 days of lactation (1206 g for LP does; P,0.05). These results show that the rabbit line selected for reproductive longevity is more robust with respect to coping with productive challenges, than a line selected for reproductive intensity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal
Volume3
Issue5
Pages (from-to)637-646
ISSN1751-7311
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • rabbit does, selection, body condition, litter size, reproductive longevity

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