Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access
Cover Image

Factors influencing post-weaning growth and mortality in rabbits

Never Assan


Several random and nonrandom factors influence post-weaning growth and mortality in rabbits. The rabbit productivity is greatly influenced by post-weaning kits growth potential and the number that survives up to market. There is a definite important association between litter size and post-weaning growth, which can be manipulated to enhance rabbit production and profitability. In this respect maintaining an economically optimum average litter size, which promote post-weaning growth is critical. It is generally pronounced that genetic improvement will improve litter size, however, aided by provision of adequate nutrition and management translate to optimal degree of maximal profitability of rabbit enterprise. Post-weaning mortality has been associated with below average pre-weaning weights that are likely to adversely depress feed consumption, poor growth and compromised immune system. Reduced mortality and enhanced growth rates calls for improved nutrition and other management practices, in addition to the exploitation of crossbred livability and viability in rabbit production. Both selection and crossbreeding have played major roles in improving post-weaning growth in rabbits. Growth traits are moderately to highly heritable as a result selection of heavier kits on post-weaning growth could result in improving the character. The purpose of this review is to discuss the factors that affect post-weaning growth and mortality in rabbits.


Abdel-Azeem, A.S., Abdel-Azim, A.M., Darwish, A.A., Omar, E.M., 2007. Body weight and carcass traits in four pure breeds of rabbits and their crosses under Egyptian environmental conditions. The 5th International Conference on Rabbit Production in Hot Climates, Hurghada, Egypt. 67-80.

Afifi, E.A., Emara, M.E., 1988. Post-weaning viability of purebred and crossbred rabbits under Egyptian conditions. J. Appl. Rabbit Res., 1, 38-41.

Akanno, E.C., Ibe, S.N., 2005. Estimates of genetic parameters for growth traits of domestic rabbits in the humid tropics. Livest. Res. Rural Dev., 17(86).

Akinsola, O.M., Nwagu, B.I., Orunmuyi, M., Iyeghe-Erakpotobor, G.T., Eze, E.D., Ugwu, M.N., Okuda, E.U., Louis, U., Onaadepo, O., Shaibu, A., 2013. Post-weaning growth performance of Hyla F1 rabbits under the guinea savannah zone of Nigeria. Sci. J. Biol. Sci., 2(6), 118-121.

Apori, S.O., Hagan, J.K., Osei, D., 2014. The growth and reproductive performance of different breeds of rabbits kept under warm and humid environments in Ghana. Online J. Anim. Feed Res., 4(3), 51-59.

Auxilia, M.T., 1968. Miglioramento per incrocio della produttivitŕ ponderale. Rivista di Coniglicoltura, 2, 26-33.

Ayorinde, K.L., 1997. The effect of some genetic and non-genetic factors on the reproductive and pre-weaning growth performance of rabbits in South Western Nigeria. J. Genet. Soc. Niger., 1, 37-45.

Ayorinde, K.L., Oke, U.K., 1995. The influence of body weight and two feeding regimes during growing phase on growth performance and early lay characteristics of pullets. Niger. J. Anim. Prod., 22, 101-107.

Baselga, M., 2004. Genetic improvement of meat rabbits. In: Proceeding of the 8th World Rabbit Congress, Puebla, September. 1-13.

Bianospino, E., Wechsler, F.S., Fernandes, S., Roça, R.O., Moura, A.S.A.M.T., 2006. Growth, carcass and meat quality traits of straight breed and crossbred Botucatu rabbits. World Rabbit Science, 14, 237-246.

Borthakur, B., Dass, D., Das, G.C., Goswami, R.N., 2002. Studies on factors affecting post-weaning daily body weight gain in New Zealand white rabbit. Indian Vet. J. (Online).

Castellini, C., Dal Bosco, A., Arias-Alvarez, M., Lorenzo, P.L., Cardinali, R., Rebollar, P.G., 2010. The main factors affecting the reproductive performance of rabbit does: A review. Anim. Reprod. Sci., 122, 174-182.

Castellini, C., Dal Bosco, A., Mugnai, C., 2003. Comparison of different reproduction protocols for rabbit does: effect of litter size and mating interval. Livest. Prod. Sci., 83(2-3), 131-139.

Dalle Zotte, A., 2002. Perception of rabbit meat quality and major factors influencing the rabbit carcass and meat quality. Livest. Prod. Sci., 75, 11-32.

Dalle Zotte, A., Paci, G., 2014. Rabbit growth performance, carcass traits and hind leg bone characteristics as affected by the sire breed, season, parity order and sex in an organic production system. Animal Science Papers and Reports, 32(2), 143-159.

Djakalia, B., Guichard, B.L., Fernande, A.E., 2012. Effect of palm oil and soya bean oil on growth performance and health of rabbit before and after weaning. J. Appl. Anim. Res., 40(1), 56-62.

Estany, J., Camacho, J., Baselga, M., Blasco, A., 1992. Selection response of growth rate in rabbit for meat production. Genet. Sel. Evol., 24, 527-537.

Fayeye, T.R., Ayorinde, K.L., 2008. Effects of weaning litter size and sex on post-weaning body weight, mortality and carcass characteristics of domestic rabbit in the humid tropics. Management and Economy. 9th World Rabbit Congress, June 10-13, Verona, Italy.

Feki, S., Baselga, M., Blas, E., Cervera, C., Gómez, E.A., 1996. Comparison of growth and feed efficiency among rabbit lines selected for different objectives. Livest. Prod. Sci., 45(1), 87-92.

Ghosh, S.K., Das, A., Bujarbaruah, K.M., Das Asit, Dhiman, K.R., Singh, N.P., 2004. Studies on the productive and reproductive performances of Soviet Chinchilla and New Zealand White breeds of rabbit under the subtropical condition of Tripura. In: Proceeding 8th World Rabbit Congress, 7-10 Sep, Puebla, Mexico, 1188-1193.

Gidenne, T., Jehl, N., Lapanouse, A., Segura, M., 2004. Interrelationship of microbial activity, digestion and gut health in the rabbit: effect of substituting fiber by starch in diets having a high proportion of rapidly fermentable polysaccharides. Br. J. Nutr., 92, 95-104.

Grobner, M.A., 1985. Dietary factors influencing enteric disorders of rabbits. Master of Science, Thesis, Oregon State University, USA.

Hollister, A.G., 1990. Effect of dietary probiotics and acidifiers on performance of weanling rabbits. J. Appl. Rabbit Res., 13, 6-9.

Krogmeier, D., Dzapo, V., Mao, I.L., 1994. Additive genetic and maternal effects on post-weaning growth and carcass traits in rabbits. J. Anim. Breed. Genet., 111(1), 289-297.

Lacza-Szabo, S., 1990. Cunniculture. 96, 263-266.

Lavanya, R., Mahender, M., Rajanna, N., Gnanaprakash, M., 2017. Productive performance of broiler rabbits. Indian J. Anim. Sci., 51(2), 391-394.

Lebas, F., 2005. Contributions in digestive physiology and metabolism. Cuniculture Magazine, 32, 19-20.

Lebas, F., Fortun-Lamothe, L., 1996. Effects of dietary energy level and origin (starch vs oil) on performance of rabbits does and their litters: Average situation after 4 weaning. In: Proceeding 6th World Rabbit Congress. Toulouse, 1, 217-221.

Mady, M.S., Tawfeek, F.A., Attia, K.M., Awadien, N.A., Abd EL-Lateif, A.I., 2016. Effect of dietary Omegranate (Punicagranatum) peel powder supplementation on growing rabbits performance. Egypt. Poult. Sci. J., 36(IV), 1031-1047.

Mahgoub, O., Kadim, I.T., Al-Saqry, N.M., Al-Busaidi, R.M., 2005. Potential of Omani Jebel Akhdar goat for meat production under feedlot conditions. Small Rumin. Res., 56(1/3), 223-230.

Masoero, G., 1992. Crossbreeding experiments on meat rabbits in Northern Mediterranean countries: A survey. Opti. Mediterr., 17, 53-66.

McNitt, J.I., Lukefahr, S.D., 1996. Genetic and environmental parameters for post-weaning growth traits of rabbits using an animal model. In the Proceedings of the 1996 World Rabbit Science Association, World Rabbit Congress. 325p.

Oke, U.K., Herber, U., Obike, O.M., Ogbonnaya, E.O., 2011. Effect of weaner body weight on growth traits of rabbits. Online J. Anim. Feed Res., 1(1), 22-27.

Onyiro, O.M., Ibe, S.N., Anigbogu, N.M., 2008. Influence of genotype X environment interaction on post-weaning growth performance of the domestic rabbit. Res. J. Agr. Biol. Sci., 4(6), 676-684.

Ozimba, C.E., Lukefahr, S.D., 1991. Comparison of rabbit breed types for post-weaning litter growth, feed efficiency and survival performance traits. J. Anim. Sci., 69, 349-350.

Paci, G., Marzoni, M., Preziuso, G., Campodoni, G., Bacci, P., 1995. Effetto dell’eta di macellazione e del sesso su incroci provenienti da maschi di razze cunicole diverse. Rivista di Coniglicoltura, 9, 33-40.

Perez, J.M., Gidenne, T., Bouvarel, I., Arveux, P., Bourdillon, A., Briens, C., Lenour, J., Messager, B., Mirabito, L., 2000. Replacement of digestible fibre by starch in the diet of the growing rabbit. II. Effects on performance and mortality by diarrhoea. Ann. Zootech., 49, 369-377.

Philip, J.S., 1970. Poultry feeds and nutrition. West Port Connecticut. The Avi Publishing Co, USA.

Piattoni, N., Maertens, L., 1999. The effect of weaning age and solid feed distribution before weaning on caeca fermentation pattern of young rabbits. Ed. Deutsche Vit. Med. Gesellschaft e.V., Giessen, 97-105.

Piles, M., Rafel, O., Ramón, J., Gómez, E.A., 2004. Crossbreeding parameters of some productive traits in meat rabbits. World Rabbit Science, 7, 59-64.

Raffel, O., Tran, G., Utrillas, M., Ramon, J., Perucho, O., Ducrocq, V., Bosch, A., 1990. Sélection pour un objectif global (poids de la portée à 60 jours) en générations chevauchantes dans une lignée blanche synthétique de lapins. Etude de la variabilité non génétique de la taille et du poids de portée a différentsstades. Options Méditerranéennes, Série Séminaires, 8, 75-82.

Rebollar, P.G., Perez-Cabal, M.A., Pereda, N., Lorenzo, P.L., Arias-Alvarez, M., Garcia-Rebollar, P., 2009. Effects of parity order and reproductive management on the efficiency of rabbit productive systems. Livest. Sci. 121, 227-233.

Roberts, J.D., Lukefahr, S.D., 1992. Evaluation of Californian, Champagne D’Argent, New Zealand white and Palomino breed as potential sire breeds: Post-weaning litter traits. J. Appl. Rabbit Res., 15, 274.

Saleh, K., Nofal, R., Younis, H., Abou-Khadiga, G., 2005. Evaluation of line V, Baladi Black rabbits and their crosses under Egyptian conditions. 3. Individual body weight. In: Proceeding 4th International Conference Rabbit Production Hot Climates, 24-27 Feb, Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt. 39-45.

Soler, M.D., Blas, E., Cano, J.L., Pascual, J.J., Cervera, C., Fernandez-Carmona, J., 2004. Effect of digestible fibre/sarch ratio and animal fat level in diets around weaning on mortality rate of rabbits. In: Proceedings 8th World Rabbit Congress, 7-10 Sep, Puebla, Mexico.

Suárez-López, J.R., Becerril-Pérez, C.M., Pro-Martínez, A., Cuca-García, J.M., Torres-Hernández, G., Sosa-Montes, E., 2008. Productive performance of six genotypes of fattening rabbits fed with seven commercial feeds. 9th World Rabbit Congress, 10-13 Jun, Verona, Italy.

Tameem Eldar, A.A., Elamin, K.M., Yousif, I.A., Hassan, H.E., Musa, A.M., 2012. Growth and mortality in pre and post-weaning rearing periods for Sudanese local rabbits. J. Anim. Prod. Adv., 2(5), 214-220.

Volek, Z., Marounek, M., Skrivanová, V., 2006. Technical note: Health status and growth performance of rabbits fed diets with different starch levels during the post-weaning period. World Rabbit Science, 14, 27-31.

Zita, L., Tumova, E., Skrivanova, V., Ledvinka, Z., 2007. Effect of weaning age on performance and nutrient digestibility of broiler rabbits. Czech J. Anim. Sci., 52(10), 341-347.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.