Special Issue "Future challenges in Rabbit Nutrition"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Francesco Gai
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Guest Editor
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Grugliasco, Italy
Interests: aquaculture; meat; foods of animal origin; feeds; insects
Prof. Dr. Laura Gasco
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (DISAFA), University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Interests: aquaculture; rabbit and poultry breeding; alternative protein sources; insects as feed; fish, rabbit and poultry nutrition; animal product quality
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Angela Trocino
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Guest Editor
Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science (BCA), University of Padova, Viale dell’Università 16, Legnaro, Padova, Italy
Interests: Rearing systems and welfare of growing and reproducing rabbits Feeding and nutrition of rabbits Feeding and nutrition of broilers Myopathies in broiler chickens Freshness; nutritional quality and safety of fish

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rabbit breeding, although a small sector of animal husbandry, is widespread in many areas of the world as rabbits are used both for food (meat) and nonfood (fur) purposes. Moreover, rabbits are also bred as companion animals, which represents a market niche for rabbit breeders.

The rabbit production chain is facing various problems, mainly concerning animal health and product quality. Gastrointestinal disorders and epizootic rabbit enteropathy are major health problems in rabbit production, causing high mortality rates around and after weaning, which affect global farm efficiency. Considering the European commitment to responsible antibiotic use in animals, rabbit nutrition and feeding play very important roles in contrasting these problems. Besides, the increasing cost of conventional feed ingredients and the increasing interest towards a circular economy push research to look for alternative raw materials that are able to provide new sources of proteins, energy, or other valuable components for rabbit diets with a sustainable environmental impact.

To overcome these issues, further studies are requested about rabbit nutrition, feeding strategies (e.g., feed restriction, phase feeding), additive supplementation (e.g., phyto-additives, immunostimulants, and probiotic and prebiotic products), and alternative raw materials.

Original manuscripts, which use a multidisciplinary approach and address any aspects of rabbit nutrition and feeding, with a direct impact on the rabbit farming, welfare, health, and meat quality, are therefore welcome. Nutrition and feeding of meat rabbits in conventional and organic systems as well as of fur and pet rabbits are welcome.

Dr. Francesco Gai
Prof. Laura Gasco
Prof. Angela Trocino
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • agricultural by-products
  • alternative fat and oil feed sources
  • environmental sustainability
  • feed efficiency
  • growth performance
  • immunostimulants
  • meat quality
  • phyto-additives
  • probiotics
  • unconventional plant protein sources

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Dietary Insoluble and Soluble Fibre on Growth Performance, Digestibility, and Nitrogen, Energy, and Mineral Retention Efficiency in Growing Rabbits
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1346; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081346 - 04 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 621
Abstract
Dietary soluble fibre limits the incidence of epizootic rabbit enteropathy (ERE) and improves the energy and nitrogen balance in low-insoluble fibre diets, while high-insoluble fibre diets seem to favour ERE. This study assessed whether the positive effects of soluble fibre are influenced by [...] Read more.
Dietary soluble fibre limits the incidence of epizootic rabbit enteropathy (ERE) and improves the energy and nitrogen balance in low-insoluble fibre diets, while high-insoluble fibre diets seem to favour ERE. This study assessed whether the positive effects of soluble fibre are influenced by the level of insoluble fibre. Four diets (2 × 2 factorial arrangement) were used with two levels of insoluble fibre (314 vs. 393 g/kg DM) and soluble fibre (87 vs. 128 g/kg DM), resulting in four diets with increasing total dietary fibre levels. Growth performance and chemical composition (body and carcass) (28–62 days of age), faecal digestibility (54–57 days of age), and jejunal morphometry functionality (39 days of age) were determined. Mortality was low (<1%) and treatments did not influence it. Insoluble and soluble fibre tended to reduce the growth rate (p ≤ 0.109), body protein, and fat accretion (p = 0.049 to 0.120), but only insoluble fibre impaired feed efficiency (p < 0.001). The efficiency of digestible energy used for growth was impaired with the increase of total dietary fibre (p = 0.027), while that of nitrogen remained majorly unaffected. In conclusion, in healthy rabbits, the increase of either insoluble or soluble fibre had no benefit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future challenges in Rabbit Nutrition)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Antimicrobial Effects of Black Soldier Fly and Yellow Mealworm Fats and Their Impact on Gut Microbiota of Growing Rabbits
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1292; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081292 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 591
Abstract
This study aimed to evaluate the in vitro antimicrobial activities of two types of insect fats extracted from black soldier fly larvae (HI, Hermetia illucens L.) and yellow mealworm larvae (TM, Tenebrio molitor L.) and their effects as dietary replacement of soybean oil [...] Read more.
This study aimed to evaluate the in vitro antimicrobial activities of two types of insect fats extracted from black soldier fly larvae (HI, Hermetia illucens L.) and yellow mealworm larvae (TM, Tenebrio molitor L.) and their effects as dietary replacement of soybean oil (S) on cecal fermentation pattern, and fecal and cecal microbiota in rabbits. A total of 120 weaned rabbits were randomly allotted to three dietary treatments (40 rabbits/group) —a control diet (C diet) containing 1.5% of S and two experimental diets (HI diet (HID) and TM diet (TMD)), where S was totally substituted by HI or TM fats during the whole trial that lasted 41 days. Regarding the in vitro antimicrobial activities, HI and TM fats did not show any effects on Salmonella growth. Yersinia enterocolitica showed significantly lower growth when challenged with HI fats than the controls. The insect fat supplementation in rabbit diets increased the contents of the cecal volatile fatty acids when compared to the control group. A metataxonomic approach was adopted to investigate the shift in the microbial composition as a function of the dietary insect fat supplementation. The microbiota did not show a clear separation as a function of the inclusion, even if a specific microbial signature was observed. Indeed, HI and TM fat supplementation enriched the presence of Akkermansia that was found to be correlated with NH3-N concentration. An increase in Ruminococcus, which can improve the immune response of the host, was also observed. This study confirms the potential of HI and TM fats as antibacterial feed ingredients with a positive influence on the rabbit cecal microbiota, thus supporting the possibility of including HI and TM fats in rabbit diets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future challenges in Rabbit Nutrition)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Thymol Addition and Withdrawal on Some Blood Parameters, Antioxidative Defence System and Fatty Acid Profile in Rabbit Muscle
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1248; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081248 - 22 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 592
Abstract
Thymol concentrations in rabbit plasma, intestinal wall (IW) and faeces were detected, and the effects of thymol application and withdrawal on biochemical, antioxidant parameters and fatty acids (FA) in blood (B) and muscle (M) were studied. Forty-eight rabbits were divided into two experimental [...] Read more.
Thymol concentrations in rabbit plasma, intestinal wall (IW) and faeces were detected, and the effects of thymol application and withdrawal on biochemical, antioxidant parameters and fatty acids (FA) in blood (B) and muscle (M) were studied. Forty-eight rabbits were divided into two experimental groups (control, C and with thymol 250-mg/kg feed, T). Thymol was administered for 21 days (TA) and withdrawn for seven days (TW). Thymol in plasma correlated with that in the IW (Spearman′s correlation coefficient (rs) = −1.000, p = 0.0167, TA) and was detected in faeces (TA and TW). In TA alkaline phosphatase (p = 0.0183), cholesterol (p = 0.0228), malondialdehyde (p = 0.003), glutathione peroxidase (p = 0.0177) in B and lactate dehydrogenase (M, p = 0.0411) decreased; monounsaturated FA (p = 0.0104) and α-linolenic acid (p = 0.0227) in M increased. In TW urea (p = 0.0079), docosapentaenoic acid (p = 0.0069) in M increased; linoleic acid (p = 0.0070), ∑ n−6 (p = 0.0007) in M and triglycerides decreased (B, p = 0.0317). In TA and TW, the total protein (p = 0.0025 and 0.0079), creatinine (B; p = 0.0357 and 0.0159) and oleic acid (M; p = 0.0104 and 0.0006) increased. Thymol was efficiently absorbed from the intestine and demonstrated its biological activity in blood and the muscles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future challenges in Rabbit Nutrition)
Open AccessArticle
Comparison of Rabbit, Kitten and Mammal Milk Replacer Efficiencies in Early Weaning Rabbits
Animals 2020, 10(6), 1087; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10061087 - 23 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 861
Abstract
Early weaned rabbits should be fed using a milk replacer in order to survive. Therefore, a rabbit milk replacer (RMR) was developed and compared with a kitten milk replacer (KMR®: KMR) and a mammal milk replacer (Zoologic® Milk matrix 30/52: [...] Read more.
Early weaned rabbits should be fed using a milk replacer in order to survive. Therefore, a rabbit milk replacer (RMR) was developed and compared with a kitten milk replacer (KMR®: KMR) and a mammal milk replacer (Zoologic® Milk matrix 30/52: MMR). Thirty-six native crossbred rabbits aged 18 days were divided into three experimental groups (six replicates/group, two rabbits/replicate), fed RMR, KMR or MMR daily until they were 36 days old and euthanized at 38 days, while a complete pelleted diet and water were provided ad libitum. No statistically significant differences were observed in growth performance parameters, water intake, faecal weight, nutrient digestibility, internal organ weight, caecal pH, caecal cellulose activity, number of faecal pellets and amount of crude protein intake (p > 0.05). Caecal amylase activity in the KMR group and caecal protease activity in the RMR group were higher than in the MMR group (p < 0.05). The villus height and crypt depth of the MMR group were greater than in the RMR and KMR group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, it is possible to feed RMR to early weaning rabbits without serious adverse effects. However, probiotics and/or prebiotics should be supplemented in milk replacers and their benefits studied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future challenges in Rabbit Nutrition)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Autochtonous Strain Enterococcus faecium EF2019(CCM7420), Its Bacteriocin and Their Beneficial Effects in Broiler Rabbits—A Review
Animals 2020, 10(7), 1188; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071188 - 14 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 534
Abstract
The present review evaluates and compares the effects achieved after application of rabbit-derived bacteriocin-producing strain Enterococcus faecium CCM7420 with probiotic properties and its bacteriocin Ent7420. The experiments included varying duration of application (14 and 21 days), form of application (fresh culture and lyophilized [...] Read more.
The present review evaluates and compares the effects achieved after application of rabbit-derived bacteriocin-producing strain Enterococcus faecium CCM7420 with probiotic properties and its bacteriocin Ent7420. The experiments included varying duration of application (14 and 21 days), form of application (fresh culture and lyophilized form), combination with herbal extract and application of the partially purified enterocin—Ent7420, produced by this strain. Results from these studies showed that E. faecium CCM7420 strain was able to colonize the gastrointestinal tract (caecum) of rabbits (in the range < 1.0–6.7 log cycle, respectively 3.66 log cycle on average), to change the composition of intestinal microbiota (increased lactic acid bacteria, reduced counts of coliforms, clostridia and staphylococci), to modulate the immunity (significant increase of phagocytic activity), morphometry (enlargement absorption surface in jejunum, higher villi height:crypt depth (VH:CD) ratio), physiological (serum biochemistry; altered total proteins, glucose and triglycerides levels) and parasitological (Eimeria sp. oocysts) parameters and to improve weight gains (in the range 4.8–22.0%, respectively 11.2% on average), feed conversion ratio and meat quality (physicochemical traits and mineral content). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future challenges in Rabbit Nutrition)
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