Growth performance and digestibility of nutrients by weaner rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) fed diets containing varying levels of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) milling waste


  • A. A. Malik
  • Y. S. Kudu
  • M. Abdullahi
  • M. J. Ibrahim



Cowpea milling waste, growth performance, nutrient digestibility, weaner rabbits


Conventional feed resources for livestock are increasingly becoming more expensive, due to competition with man; hence nutritionists are searching for cheaper, locally-available alternatives. A total of forty-five (45) mixed sex weaner rabbits, aged 5 – 6 weeks, with average initial weights of between 694.42 and 761.10 g were used to investigate the effect of varying levels of cowpea milling waste (CMW) diets on their growth performance and nutrient digestibility. They were randomly allotted to five dietary treatments with nine rabbits per treatment. The control treatment (T1) contained 0 % CMW while treatments T2, T3, T4 and T5 had 10, 20, 30 and 40 % CMW dietary inclusion levels, respectively. Clean water and feed were offered ad libitum daily to the rabbits, and record of their feed intake and growth performance were taken for 12 weeks. At the end of the 11th week, a nutrient digestibility trial was carried out. Results show that there were no significant (P>0.05) differences in final body weight, body weight gain, total feed intake and mortality among the dietary treatments. Feed conversion ratio (FCR) for diets T4 (6.65) and T5 (6.66) containing 30 and 40 % CMW respectively, were as good as that of the control diet (6.11). Dry matter and crude protein digestibility showed no significant (P>0.05) difference across the treatments. Digestibility of crude fibre (72.64, 80.16, 84.04 and 80.90 % for T2, T3, T4 and T5 respectively), ether extract (95.98, 94.90, 96.04 and 94.38 % for T2, T3, T4 and T5 respectively), nitrogen free extract (94.30, 95.18, 93.58 and 94.90 % for T2, T3, T4 and T5 respectively), as well as total digestible nutrient (83.69, 76.11, 81.67 and 80.02 % for T2, T3, T4 and T5 respectively) of the test diets compared favourably with that of the control diet (72.94, 95.23, 96.04 and 80.47 % for CF, EE, NFE and TDN respectively). Hence, it can be concluded that CMW can be used safely as a protein source and included up to 40 % in weaner rabbit diets with no detrimental effect on their growth performance and nutrient digestibility.







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