The significance of crossbreeding in influencing growth traits, reproduction and carcass characteristics in rabbits
Keywords:Crossbreeding, Growth traits, Reproduction, Carcass, Rabbits
Efficiency of rabbit meat production has been optimized using 2 or 3 way crossbreeding schemes based on specialized paternal and maternal breeds and/or lines in order to enhance desired growth, reproduction, carcass and meat quality properties. Crossbreeding schemes allow good attributes of the paternal line genotype to counterbalance the shortcomings of the maternal line genotype and good characteristics of the maternal line genotype to counterbalance the shortcomings of the paternal line genotype. Traditionally, some specific breeds/lines have been observed to deliver their best as sire breeds through passing on outstanding genes on growth rate in the progeny, while other breeds/lines are impressive when used as dam-breeds/lines based on their superiority in reproductive traits, of litter size at birth or at weaning. This emanate from the fact that regardless of how much intense selection has been applied to different meat rabbit breeds/lines neither one has been excellent in catering for all preferred attributes of growth, reproductive, carcass traits and meat quality properties to satisfy various markets and consumer demands. The use of genetically selected paternal and maternal lines has improved productivity in terminal crossbreeding schemes. In this regard, the raw material that offers the opportunity for efficient meat production through crossbreeding is the genetic diversity of rabbit breeds. From biological point of view, genetic diversity is the basis for utilization of breeds combination that perform at levels consistent with the targeted market requirement. However, it has been noted that comparison of different crossbreds’ studies have been problematic, due to the fact that performance results are taken from rabbits slaughtered at the same age, but differing in their slaughter weight. This is on the backdrop that early and late maturing genotypes will differ in carcass composition and meat quality at the same slaughter weight due to differences in degree of maturity. The purpose of this review is to assess the effectiveness of crossbreeding on growth traits, reproduction, carcass and meat characteristics in rabbits.
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