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A Knowledgebase for the Rabbit Industry...
Rabbit Research
How To Do Your Own On-Farm Research

Feed Trial Setup

So often as breeders we want to compare feed from different manufacturers to see if it suits our breeding operation. Because rabbit feed is such a small proportion of most feed companies total production, very little research appears to be done to assist the rabbit industry... hence we often need to do our own analysis. In order to conduct a valid trial we need to carefully plan our project.
In most feed trials we need to analyse :-
Weight Gain for the period of the trial
Feed Conversion... pounds of feed for 1 pound of growth per animal.
Cost per pound of Gain
Selecting Animals
In order to remove any genetic effects when doing an analysis we need to select a representative sample from the available animals... thats if we have more than 1 litter of different breeding... Lets say we have 2 litters of rabbits... 1st litter has 6 kits... 2nd litter has 8 kits. We plan to make 2 pens of animals for a trial... So we take 3 from the 1st litter and 4 from the 2nd litter... this is pen 1 of the trial... the rest of the animals make pen 2.
Where possible try to distribute the animals in each pen to be half male and half female.
Also as much as possible try to have a similar range of weights at the start of the trial in each pen.
Identifying Animals
It is suggested that animals are individually identified for weighing with a tattoo or marking pen in the ears.
It is suggested that all weights... both animals and feed are measured in metric pounds ex. 1/10ths of a pound - 4lb 8oz is equal to 4.5lb - 4lb 4oz is equal to 4.25lb... This makes analysis so much easier and there are plenty of low cost scales available which combine imperial and metric weights.
How Often To Weigh
It is suggested to weigh every 3 days so that results are more representative.
In order to accurately measure the feed consumed for each weigh period it is suggested that:-
  • We obtain 2 suitable buckets or containers (If we have 2 trial pens) to hold feed.
  • Weigh out sufficient feed for each ration for the weigh period into each bucket.
ex. 7 rabbits @ 0.25lb per day for 3 days = approx 6lb so lets put 15lb in each bucket
  • Weigh the buckets.
  • For each weigh period we feed from the buckets what ever is required for each pen.
  • When the first weigh period is complete we empty the feed remaining in the feeders back into each respective bucket and weigh the buckets and remaining feed... subtract this from the starting weight of each bucket and feed... the balance is the weight of feed consumed for the weigh period for each ration.
  • Add sufficient feed to the buckets to start the next weigh period.
Analysing the Results
Use a spreadsheet
More to come
Trial Design

Nebraska Extension-Pork Trials


Essential Oils

Essential Oils
New pages and

Pages to be improved...


Essential oils (EO) are compounds that give plants and spices their colour and scent. Many essential oils have antifungal, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties that are used to protect their plant of origin. The antibacterial properties of many essential oils present in clove, garlic, oregano and other plants have been known for years, and these oils have been used to flavour and preserve foods.
How do they work? The exact mechanisms are not clear, but they appear to alter enzyme activity in the gut, improve the digestion and uptake of nutrients, and optimise the gut microflora.
Therefore, they represent an exciting opportunity for rabbit producers to improve performance using an all-natural approach.


Public concern over use of antibiotics in livestock production has increased in recent years because of their possible contribution to emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and their transmission from livestock to humans.
Accordingly, ruminant microbiologists and nutritionists have been exploring alternative methods of favorably altering ruminal metabolism to improve feed efficiency and animal productivity. Plant extracts contain secondary metabolites, such as essential oils (EO), that have antimicrobial properties that make them potential alternatives to antibiotics to manipulate microbial activity in the rumen.
Essential oils are naturally occurring volatile components responsible for giving plants and spices their characteristic essence and color. Over the last few years, a number of studies have examined effects of EO, and their active components, on rumen microbial fermentation. However, many of these studies are laboratory based (i.e., in vitro) and of a short-term nature.
Nevertheless, results from in vitro batch culture studies provide evidence that EO and their components have the potential to improve N and/or energy utilization in ruminants. Effects of EO on ruminal N metabolism is more likely mediated by their impact on hyper-ammonia producing (HAP) bacteria resulting in reduced deamination of amino acids (AA) and production of ammonia N. However, these responses are only observed with high doses of EO, which also can inhibit the process of ruminal fermentation as reflected by a decline in total volatile fatty acid production. Effects on methane production are inconsistent, but evidence to date indicates that there is potential to select EO, or active components, that selectively inhibit ruminal methanogenesis.
Results from in vitro continuous culture studies suggest that rumen microbial populations may adapt to EO, which may explain the lack of an effect of EO on ruminal metabolism and animal performance in long-term in vivo studies.
Several studies have examined the activity of a number of EO against a wide variety of food-borne pathogens.
Data available show a strong bactericidal activity against pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp.
Essential oils hold promise as feed additives in ruminant nutrition to improve feed efficiency and control the spread of pathogens in livestock. However identification of EO, or their active components, that favorably alter fermentation without resulting in broad overall inhibition of rumen fermentation, continues to be a major challenge for researchers. © 2007 Elsevier B.V.
Benchaar, C.a , Calsamiglia, S.b, Chaves,, Fraser, G.R.a, Colombatto, D.d, McAllister, T.A.c, Beauchemin, K.A.c

External Links

Progressive Cattleman
World Poultry

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