|Ogbuewu Ifeanyi Princewill|
|Animal Science and Technology, Federal University of University, Owerri|
|Background: Neem belongs to the family Meliaceae. It is the most versatile, multifarious trees of tropics, with immense potentials. It possesses maximum useful non-wood products such as leaves, bark, flowers, fruits, seeds, gum, oil and neem cake than any other tree species. Biologically neem has numerous bioactive ingredients with diverse applications. These bioactive ingredients are known to have antiallergenic, antidermatic, antifeedent, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antipyorrhoeic, antiscabic, insecticidal, larvicidal, nematicidal and other biological activities.
This study was designed with the main objective of investigating the physiological responses of rabbits fed graded levels of neem leaf meal. Specifically, the study will examine the effects of graded levels of neem leaf meal on (i) hematological values, (ii) serum biochemical values, (iii) morphometric characteristics, (iv) semen quality characteristics, (v) performance (vi) organ weight characteristics and (vii) linear body measurements of Chinchilla × New Zealand white cross rabbits. Seventy two rabbits of equal sexes were used to study the effects of dietary neem leaf meal (NLM) on the linear body measurements, growth performance, blood chemical values, libido, semen quality and morphometric characteristics of the reproductive organs and other internal organs of crossbred rabbits. Four experimental diets BT0, BT1, BT2 and BT3 were formulated contained NLM at 0, 5, 10 and 15% respectively. Other ingredients were the same for all the 4 diets with exception of brewers dried grain which varied in proportion to replacement with NLM. The experimental animals were divided into 4 treatment groups of 9 rabbits each; and each group subdivided into 3 replicates of 3 rabbits each. Each treatment group was randomly assigned to the diet in a completely randomized design experiment. After a 2 - week stabilization period, data on body weight and body linear measurements were individually collected from the experimental animals and repeated at 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, and 16th week. The measurements considered were body length, tail length, ear length, ear width, and head to shoulder, heart girth and length of limbs. At the end of the experiment (ie at the end of 16th week), 6 rabbits (3 bucks and 3 does) were selected from each group (i.e. one rabbit per replicate). Blood samples were obtained from marginal ear vein of the representative rabbit in each group and assayed for blood chemical values. The animals were sacrificed and eviscerated for internal organ and reproductive organ weight determination. The haematological (Hb, PCV, RBC and WBC counts) values and haematological constants (MCV, MCH and MCHC) values of the control rabbits were similar to that of treatment groups. There were variations in differential leucocytes count marked with significantly (p