An experiment examined the effect of restricted feeding during early gestation on later feed intake and on kindling performance in young rabbit does. Nulliparous rabbit does (n = 94) were inseminated at 14.5 weeks of age. During the first 10 days of gestation, does were fed individually either to appetite (AL) or 1.35 times maintenance requirement (R). After 10 days of gestation, all animals were fed to appetite. Does were weighed at insemination and after kindling. Feed intake was recorded during the first 10 days of gestation and weekly, thereafter. The number of does that kindled, number of live and stillborn kits and litter weight was recorded. The experiment ended after kindling. During feed restriction, AL does consumed 70 g/day more on an average than R does (209 and 139 +/- 4 g for AL and R, respectively; P <0.001). In the first and second week after feed restriction, compensatory feed intake occurred. Restrictive fed does ate more than AL does (+34 +/- 5 g/day from days I I to 17 of gestation; P <0.001; +17 +/- 6 g/day from days 18 to 24 of gestation; P <0.05). In the last week of gestation, feed intake of AL and R was comparable (89 and 100 5 g, respectively). At kindling, AL does had consumed 8 +/- 3 g/day more feed over the total gestation period than R does (P <0.04). Feeding level during early gestation neither affected the kindling rate (83%), total litter size (7.9 +/- 0.4) nor the number of does with stillborn kits (10 versus 9 for AL and R, respectively). Regardless of treatment, in the last week of gestation (days 25-32) the number of does with stillbirth was lower and average birth weight was higher (P <0.01) in does eating more than the average daily feed intake compared to does eating below average. Based on the results of this study it was concluded that feed restriction for 10 days in early gestation does not affect kindling performance of young does, but feed intake in the last week of gestation affects kit survival and birth weight. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- metabolic-clearance rate
- embryonic survival