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Animals 2017, 7(12), 95;

The Effect of Feed Form on Diet Digestibility and Cecal Parameters in Rabbits

Department of Grain Science and Industry, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68510, USA
Flatwater Veterinary Group, Lincoln, NE 68510, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 September 2017 / Revised: 1 November 2017 / Accepted: 4 December 2017 / Published: 7 December 2017
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Simple Summary

In addition to hay or forage in the diet pet rabbits are commonly fed a supplementary food as a muesli (granular mix), pellets, or extruded croquettes. This study aimed to determine if form of this supplementary diet (pelleted vs. extruded) or composition (muesli) had an effect on the diets total tract digestibility and cecal fermentation patterns. Rabbits had slightly higher intake when fed extruded and pelleted diets compared to muesli. Digestibility results were inconsistent between estimation methods. The extruded diet was more digestible than pelleted according to the total collection digestibility method, but according to internal marker acid insoluble ash the pelleted diet was the most digestible. Both the extruded and pelleted diet had similar fermentation patterns,with lower cecal pHand greater proportions of butyrate. Our findings suggest that diet composition, rather than form, may have a greater impact on nutrient utilization by rabbits.


Fifteen New Zealand rabbits were randomly assigned to one of 3 dietary treatment groups of 5 animals each and fed pelleted, extruded, or muesli diets in a completely randomized design experiment. Rabbits were placed in individual cages with ad libitum access to water and food for 45 days acclimation followed by 30 days experimental period. Feed intake of rabbits fed pelleted and extruded diets was greater (p < 0.05) than rabbits fed the muesli diet (125.6 and 130.4 vs. 91.9 g/d), but weight change and feed efficiency were not affected by treatment. Diet digestibility among the treatments was inconsistent when comparing results obtained from total fecal collection and AIA (please define) as an internal marker. Rabbits fed extruded and pelleted diets had lower (p < 0.05) cecal pH (6.42 and 6.38 vs. 7.02, respectively), and higher (p < 0.05) production of SCFA (18.5 and 19.0 vs. 11.7 mM, respectively) than those fed muesli. The fermentation products from rabbits fed pelleted and extruded diets had a greater proportion of butyrate and less propionate than rabbits fed muesli. The results of this study indicate that the basal dietary composition had a greater impact on diet utilization and cecal fermentation than food form. View Full-Text
Keywords: rabbits; digestibility; acid insoluble ash; diet form; pelleted; extruded; muesli rabbits; digestibility; acid insoluble ash; diet form; pelleted; extruded; muesli
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Alvarenga, I.C.; Aldrich, C.G.; Kohles, M. The Effect of Feed Form on Diet Digestibility and Cecal Parameters in Rabbits. Animals 2017, 7, 95.

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