Effect Of Litter Size On The Body Weight Of Rabbit

Project and Seminar Material for Animal Science

Effect Of Litter Size On The Body Weight Of Rabbit


This study was carried out to determine the effect of litter size on the body weight of rabbit at uniben Teaching and Research farm. Data on the reproductive performance were obtained from Does over a period of six months (April to September, 2012) the Does were mated to vigorous bucks.

Data obtained were on Does weight at weaning, gestation length (GLT), litter size at birth (LTSBTH), litter size at weaning (LTSWN), average weaning weight of kittens respectively (WWT). litter size significantly affect the pre_ weaning weight gain of suckling rabbits up to point of weaning because rabbits reared in small litters suckled more milk and gain more weight. Litter size at birth in rabbit has been known to be negatively correlated with individual rabbit weight at birth. The result of the analysis revealed that age and litter size of rabbits had significant effects on the mean weight of rabbits.This is because the highest values were obtained for rabbits between 4-6months of age and litter sizes of 2 and 5 rabbits respectively.

Litter size also significantly affects the weight gain of suckling rabbits up to the point of weaning and reduce litter size will help to achieve higher weaning weight and growth rate which will also help to increase their individual birth weight. Maintaining high level of nutrition through the growth period of rabbits will result in growth performance and productive performances of the doe.

Table of Content

  • Titles Pages
  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Content
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • List of Plates

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Objective

Chapter Two

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Litter Size at Birth
  • 2.2 Litter size at Weaning
  • 2.3 Pre-weaning weight of litter size
  • 2.4 Age at First Mating
  • 2.5 Gestation Length
  • 2.6 Effect of Litter Size

Chapter Three

Materials and Methods

  • 3.1 Location and Climatic Condition of the Experimental Site
  • 3.2 The Management practice
  • 3.3 Data Collection and Analysis

Chapter Four


  • 4.1 Mean Performance of Rabbit

Chapter Five:


Chapter Six; Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 6.1 Summary
  • 6.2 Conclusion
  • 6.3 Recommendations
  • References

List of Tables

  • Table: 3.1; Estimated Composition of Experimental Diet
  • Table 4.1; Descriptive Statistics of Reproductive Character of Rabbits Studied
  • Table 4.2; Effect of litter size at birth on post-weaning body weight of rabbits

List of Figures

  • Figure 1; Mean weights of Rabbit post Weaning
  • Figure 2; Effect of Litter Size at Birth on Post – Weaning Body Weight of Rabbit

Chapter One


Domestic rabbits are of the descendants of oryctolagus cunniculus specie that is native to the western Mediterranean basin. The rabbit was domesticated recently with most breeds being developed by humans and are not older than 300 years (Lebas and Colin, 1992).

The rabbit has being used as an experimental animal in genetics and reproductive physiology since the beginning of the century but it was not until 1950 that the first findings on quantitative genetics were published. To upgrade the performance of rabbits, breeders should use local rabbits, either native or imported populations that have been locally adapted and make use of genetic variability that is available (source). Priority should be given to research on rural and backyard rabbit production since they require little investment and by using local resources that will be reasonable for production (Finzi, 1992).

The most strategy of any mammal is to produce offspring and thereby perpetuate the species. Therefore if the high demand for meat in future years will have to be met, much of the increase in production would have to come from short cycle animal such as rabbit which have gestation period between 30-32days and a rapid growth rate that makes it ready for breeding at five (5) months of age and under good management conditions which compares favourable with the growth rate of other animals such as chicken (FAO, 1991).

Rabbit appears to be the most sustainable means of producing high quality animal protein for the expanding populations of the lesser develop country like Nigeria. Rabbit meat consumption has never violated any religious or social taboos, therefore, rabbits seem to have good potential as meat producing animal and also suitable solution to solve the lack of protein, especially when productive and reproductive efficiency are considered.

Therefore, it is desirable that young rabbits are properly managed to prevent delays in the onset of puberty (FAO, 1992). The reproductive performance of an animal determines to an extent, the turn over from animal production and the ratio of its growth rate. Growth rate varies from one breed of animal to another which provides information on genetic variation which will be of help in selecting breeding stock.

Litter size in rabbits varies considerably usually ranging from 6-10 kittens in domestic rabbits.

Although the milk supply of mammalian mothers is reported to be partly adjusted to variation in litter size by the adaptative stimulation of pre-partum mammogenesis (Fossyth and Hayden, 1977, Jameson, 1998). There is evidence from a wide range of species that an increase in the number of siblings reduces the share of milk obtained by individuals. This result in a negative correlation between litter size and growth rates of dependent kits (Mendl, 1998,Mock and Parker, 1997, Hudson and Trillmich, 2007) There is a clear negative relationship between sibling number and kits growth rates or weaning weight in domestic breeds (Drummond el al 2000) as well as in European rabbits living under natural breeding conditions (Radel et al 2008).

1.1 Objective

The objective of this study are to

  1. Determine the mean Litter size and growth of rabbit.
  2. Determine the effect of Litter size in post weaning body weight.

Chapter Six

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

6.1 Summary

Number of litter size of rabbits from various breeds of rabbits varies in the southern part of Nigeria and it ranges from 2 – 8 depending on the breed with an average number of six litters per doe.

Maximum number of loiter at weaning were obtainable with an average number of six litters.

Litter size in rabbits varies from 6 – 10 kits in domestic rabbits depending on the breeds, and from 1 and 9 kittens in wild rabbits on average 3-5, 6 litter depending on the breeding cycle but in southern part of Nigeria. It ranges from 2 – 6 litters,

6.2 Conclusion

The results obtained in this study suggest that the weight of kits born in larger litter will be smaller than the weight of those born in a small litter though they may attain the same mature weight eventually. Their reproductive performances were investigated. Records obtained were analysed and descriptive statistic of reproductive performance studied, effect of litter size and birth on post weaning body weight of rabbits and mean weight of rabbit were all presented. Values obtained for some of the traits were also reported. Litter size significantly affects the weight gain of suckling rabbits up to point of weaning. The relatively low performance of the does cannot be attributed to the high proportion of the does in the population, inadequate deit and their body size (size of the Doe).

6.3 Recommendations

Maintaining high level of nutrition all through the growth period of rabbits would result in growth performance and productive performances of the Doe. Reduce litter size will help to achieve higher weaning weight and growth rate which will also help to increase their individual birth weight.

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