The effect of diatomaceous earth in rabbit rations on their performance

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Bwalya, Nkole
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The University of Zambia
The study to determine the effect of feeding rations containing different inclusion levels of the Diatomaceous Earth on the performance of rabbits. Each rabbit was assigned randomly to different cages and dietary treatments irrespective of their sex. The individual rabbits constituted the replicates in each of the treatments. The study was carried out at the University of Zambia, Department of Animal Science Field Station for seven weeks. This was done by determining the live weight gains of the rabbits, determining the feed conversion ratio and the average feed consumption for a period of seven weeks. The diatomaceous earth was added to the rabbit ration at 0%, 1%, 2%, 3% and 4% of the diet prepared for the rabbits. A total of 25 three month old rabbits were randomly assigned to different cages and different treatments. The rabbits were New Zealand White crossed with Chinchilla breed of rabbits. The experimental design used was the Randomized Complete Block Design and the analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for the significant differences in live weight gain, average feed consumption and feed conversion ratio. The feeding rations based on these diets did not result in significant differences (P >0.05) on feed consumption among the different treatments. The addition of DE did not have an effect significantly on feed consumption. However, less feed was consumed among the treatments as compared to the control. Addition of DE did not significantly have an effect on the weight gain of each of the rabbits among the different treatments. Generally, higher weight gains were reported among the treatments as compared to the control diet. There were no significant differences reported in the feed conversion ratio among the different treatments. Diatomaceous Earth was observed to improve the general appearance of rabbits as they had healthier coat appearance and their healthy status improved. No mortality was recorded during the period of the trial. The growth rate improved in rabbits fed DE among the different treatments. Droppings were observed to have a drier consistency in the rabbits fed diets containing DE than the control and round worms were passed out with feaces. The dry consistency of the droppings contributed to a cleaner environment and less flies and odors in the cages. I would therefore recommend that rabbit keepers and other farmers rearing poultry, cattle, and horses adopt the use of Diatomaceous Earth in order to reduce the number of flies, parasites and offensive odor in the housing pens and contribute to cleaner environments. I further recommend that this experiment be repeated and carried out for a longer period of time (i.e. for at least 3 months) so as to fully study the extent of the effects of adding DE and confirm these results. Further, studies should also be done to evaluate the meat quality tests of rabbits fed Diatomaceous Earth.
Rabbits--feeding and feeds