Acta Vet. Brno 2009, 78: 379-386

Effect of a Grain Extract on Certain Digestive Physiological Indicators in Early Weaned Rabbits

Melinda Kovács1, Emma Kósa2, Péter Horn1, Zsolt Szendrő1, Gábor Milisits1

1Kaposvár University, Faculty of Animal Science, Kaposvár, Hungary
2Szent István University, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Budapest, Hungary

Received January 28, 2008
Accepted March 9, 2009

The effect of a non-medicated diet with or without a grain extract feed additive (benzoquinones as main active ingredients) on the growth of rabbits and certain physiological indicators of the digestive tract was examined. One-day-old rabbits of average birth weight were distributed into litters of eight, and these litters were randomly divided into three groups (21-22 litters/group). The control group (Group C) received a basal diet. The diet fed to rabbits of Group IM, was supplemented with a feed additive containing natural basic ingredients (Immunovet-HBM, 1 kg/t); the diet fed to Group M was medicated (tiamulin, oxytetracycline and diclazuril). Three days prior to kindling and up to weaning at 21 days of age of the pups, the does were fed one of the three diets ad libitum. Young rabbits were allowed to consume the same diets beside their mother’s milk before weaning. Significant (p < 0.05) difference in body weight between groups was detected only at the ages of 4 and 8 weeks. The pH of the gastric content remained significantly (p < 0.05) higher in Group IM after weaning. Rabbits in Group IM showed the highest pancreatic enzyme (trypsin, lipase, α-amylase) activities throughout the period studied. The composition of microflora of the caecum was only slightly altered by the treatment. The total volatile fatty acid content (tVFA) increased with age and from day 28 it was significantly (p < 0.05) higher in the C and IM group than in M rabbits. The proportion of butyric acid was lower than that of propionic acid even on the 42nd day in Group M. From the results of this study it is clear that the early weaning of rabbits can be accomplished by the use of a non-medicated diet without any decrease in weight gain. In our study the grain extract feed additive exerted a beneficial effect by increasing the pancreatic enzyme activity and maintaining a better VFA ratio.