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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium, 18-20 May 2005 (Beijing, China) Publication Date 18 May 2005  701P0205.(doi:10.13031/2013.18417)
Authors:   J. P. Wang, Q. Y. Wang, N. Liu, B. Q. Xue
Keywords:   Alfalfa mature stage, hay, productive performance, rabbit

A feeding trial for investigating the optimal harvest time of alfalfa was conducted with 120 hybrid rabbits divided into four groups. Animals were supplemented with grass hay, early mature stage (10% bloom) alfalfa hay, mid mature stage (50% bloom) alfalfa hay and full bloom mature stage alfalfa hay respectively on the basis of same concentrate fed ad libitum, housed in cages of three layers individually with clean and fresh water through automatic waterer. Per cage feed intake and health condition were monitored daily and weight gain was measured weekly during growing period (33~54d) and fattening period (55~82d). The results showed that in the whole period all groups had no statistical differences in average daily weight gain and live weight at slaughtering age. Alfalfa groups decreased more concentrate feed intake than grass group (p<0.01), with full bloom alfalfa hay having the most effect up to 20% and 6% during growing and fattening period respectively (p<0.01). Although there were no differences in the feed conversion efficiencies for all groups throughout experimental period, the concentrate conversion efficiencies in experimental groups were significantly higher than in the control group. Among alfalfa hay groups, there were no significant differences in average daily gain, concentrate intake, but morbidity of full bloom alfalfa hay treatment reduced (p<0.05). In conclusion, it is suggested that alfalfa should be harvested at full bloom mature stage to make hay for rabbits.

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