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Article

Litter Survival Differences between Divergently Selected Lines for Environmental Sensitivity in Rabbits

1
Departamento de Tecnología Agroalimentaria, Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, Ctra de Beniel Km 3.2, 03312 Orihuela, Spain
2
Institute for Animal Science and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de València, P.O. Box 22012, 46022 Valencia, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090603
Received: 27 July 2019 / Revised: 14 August 2019 / Accepted: 20 August 2019 / Published: 25 August 2019
Two rabbit lines are divergently selected for increasing or decreasing the variability of litter size at birth. Decreasing the litter size variability produces more resilient females with less sensitivity to diseases, being an indirect selection way to improve environmental sensitivity. The kits’ survival rate at weaning was higher in the homogeneous line. Moreover, this line led to a greater uniformity of the kits’ weight at weaning, although the weight variability at birth was higher, which could be due to a higher lactation capacity of the homogeneous line.
A divergent selection experiment on environmental sensitivity was performed in rabbits. The aim was to estimate the correlated response in kit weight and survival, litter weight, and weight distance from birth to weaning. The weight distance was calculated as the absolute value of the differences between the individual value and the mean value of its litter. The relationship between the probability of survival at 4 d of age, and the weight at birth, was studied. Environmental sensitivity was measured as litter size variability. A total of 2484 kits from 127 does from the low line, and 1916 kits of 114 does from the high line of the 12th generation were weighed. Both of the lines showed similar individual and litter weights at birth and weaning, and a similar survival rate at birth, and at 4 d of age. The survival rate at weaning was higher in the low line (0.67 and 0.62; P = 0.93). The weight distance was higher at birth, but lower at weaning in the low line (47.8 g and 54.1 g; P = 0.98). When the weight at birth was high, the kits had a higher survival rate. In conclusion, selection for environmental sensitivity showed a correlated response in the kits’ survival, and in the homogeneity of litter weight at weaning. View Full-Text
Keywords: correlated response; pre-weaning; survival; weight; welfare correlated response; pre-weaning; survival; weight; welfare
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MDPI and ACS Style

Agea, I.; García, M.-L.; Blasco, A.; Argente, M.-J. Litter Survival Differences between Divergently Selected Lines for Environmental Sensitivity in Rabbits. Animals 2019, 9, 603. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090603

AMA Style

Agea I, García M-L, Blasco A, Argente M-J. Litter Survival Differences between Divergently Selected Lines for Environmental Sensitivity in Rabbits. Animals. 2019; 9(9):603. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090603

Chicago/Turabian Style

Agea, Ivan, María-Luz García, Agustín Blasco, and María-José Argente. 2019. "Litter Survival Differences between Divergently Selected Lines for Environmental Sensitivity in Rabbits" Animals 9, no. 9: 603. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090603

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