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Adaptability of the digestive function according to age at weaning in the rabbit: II. Effect on nutrient digestion in the small intestine and in the whole digestive tract

Abstract : The ability of young rabbits to digest a solid diet was evaluated according to the weaning age: 21 (W21, 12 litters) or 35 (W35, 12 litters) days of age. From 14 days onwards, the rabbits were fed the same pelleted feed. Three methods were compared to estimate the faecal digestibility in the young rabbits, between 24 to 28 and 38 to 42 days. Digestive balance at ileal and faecal levels was determined for the main nutrients provided by milk and solid feed. The W21 rabbits increased their solid feed intake only 2 days after their weaning, when compared with suckling rabbits. Thus their crude protein (CP) intake remained lower until 26 days compared with the W35 rabbits (from 41%, P < 0.01), as well as their crude fat intake until 28 days (from 72%, P < 0.001). On the contrary, the W35 rabbits increased their solid feed intake without a delay after weaning, quickly reaching the intake level of the W21 rabbits. The amounts of organic matter (OM) and CP reaching the caecum were increased on day 28 by 56% and 42% in the W21 rabbits compared with the W35 rabbits, respectively (P < 0.05), and were similar between groups on day 42. Starch ileal digestibility coefficients were 94.2% and 95.4% in 28- and 42-day-old rabbits, respectively, irrespective of the weaning age. The amount of starch flowing through the ileo-caecal junction was low and only tended to be higher on day 28 in the W21 group (0.20 v. 0.15 g/day in the W35 group, P = 0.10). The digestive balance pointed out that the digestible energy intake was similar between weaned and suckling rabbits from 23 to 27 days, a phenomenon partly explained by a high ability of the W21 rabbits to digest starch (98%) and NDF (36%). Indeed, the amounts of starch and NDF digested by the W21 group were 2.0- and 2.4-fold higher than those of the W35 rabbits at this period (P < 0.001). However, they ate 20% less digestible proteins than still-suckling rabbits (P < 0.001). From 38 till 42 days, only a lower ability of the W21 rabbits to digest lipids was detected (P < 0.05). In conclusion, early-weaned rabbits were able to adapt quickly to digest large amounts of starch and fibres.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-02658627
Déposant : Migration Prodinra <>
Soumis le : samedi 30 mai 2020 - 12:35:03
Dernière modification le : vendredi 20 novembre 2020 - 08:29:05

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Mélanie Gallois, Laurence Fortun-Lamothe, Andréa Michellan, Thierry Gidenne. Adaptability of the digestive function according to age at weaning in the rabbit: II. Effect on nutrient digestion in the small intestine and in the whole digestive tract. animal, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2008, 2 (4), pp.536-547. ⟨10.1017/S1751731108001730⟩. ⟨hal-02658627⟩

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