The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the level of alfalfa in the diet on feed intake and digestibility of two types of rabbits, wild (Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus) vs. domestic (O. cuniculus cuniculus). Ten wild (W; mean LW = 927 g) and 10 domestic (D; mean LW = 4,645 g) adult rabbit does were fed ad libitum two pelleted diets: a control diet (C) with 15% of dehydrated alfalfa hay (as feed basis) and a test diet (A) with 36% of dehydrated alfalfa hay (as feed basis), according to a change-over design. Wild does dry matter (DM) intake per kg live weight (BW) was 55% higher (p < .001) than the intake of the D ones (58 g vs. 37 g DM per kg BW respectively). However, no difference (p > .05) was found when intake was expressed per kg0.75 BW (ca. 56 g DM) and tended to be higher (p = .07) in D does when expressed per kg0.67 BW (62 g vs. 55 g DM). Domestic does showed a higher (p < .05) DM, organic matter, crude energy and neutral detergent fibre digestibility (3; 2; 3; 3 percentage points respectively) than W does. The amount of nutrients and energy digested by D does was lower per kg BW (p < .001), similar per kg0.75 BW (p > .05) and tended to be higher per kg0.67 BW (p < .1) than in W does. The diet content of alfalfa did not affect (p > .05) the feed intake nor the diet digestibility. This study suggests that W rabbits exhibit a higher intake per kg BW and a lower digestibility than their D counterparts, which results in similar digestible nutrient and energy intake per kg BW powered to 0.75. The nutritive value of dehydrated alfalfa for rabbits, evaluated through intake and digestibility, seems to be equivalent to their base diets (forage plus concentrate).
- alfalfa level