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The essence of weaning age and its significance on performance, mortality, carcass and meat quality properties in rabbits

Never Assan


Weaning age is one of the critical components under management practices which can affect the profitability of a rabbit enterprise, because of its consequence on productive traits, mortality, carcass and meat quality properties in rabbits. Choice of weaning age suitable for a particular production system which brings about positive change in productive traits, mortality, carcass and meat quality properties in rabbits is bound to increase economic returns. There has been inconsistence in the observations made in different studies on the influence of early versus late weaning on productive traits, mortality, carcass and meat quality properties. This has made the comparison of different studies to ascertain optimum weaning age questionable, due to the fact that performance, mortality and carcass parameters results are derived from rabbits slaughtered at the same weaning age, but differing in their nutritional regime, slaughter weight and genotypes. Different fixed effects (production system, nutrition, slaughter weight, genotype, etc.) and their interactive effect with weaning age in various studies have been a source of variation in productive traits, mortality, carcass and meat quality properties. Genetic groups might differ in productive traits, mortality, carcass and meat quality properties at the same weaning age, hence it’s necessary to determine the optimum weaning age in different production systems for different genetic groups. This is on the backdrop that the choice of inappropriate weaning age in rabbits may reduce productivity and increase mortality as well as affecting carcass parameters adversely. It has been noted that any management practice which do not curtail mortality compromises on total meat output ending up in reduced income earned from rabbit production. It would be reasonable to conclude that performance of rabbits, the resultant carcass and meat quality properties as well as mortality rates depend greatly on the management practices such as weaning age and its interactive effect with other factors adopted during the production cycle. This review looks at the effects of weaning age on productive traits, mortality, carcass and meat quality properties in rabbits.


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