EFFECT OF DIETARY COTULA CINEREA MEAL LEVELS ON PERFORMANCE, DIGESTIBILITY, CARCASS TRAITS AND MICROBIAL STATUS OF GROWING RABBITS UNDER DESERT CONDITIONS
M.S. Abou Sekken and A.S. Abd El-Hakim *
Natural Resources Dev. Dep., Envi: Studies & Res. Inst., Minufiya Univ., Sadat City, Egypt.
* Poult. Nutr. Dep., Anim. Prod. Res. Inst., ARC., Minis. Of Agri, Dokki, Giza, Egypt.
ABSTRACT: An experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of different dietary levels of Cotula cinerea meal(CCM) to substitute 2, 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 % of the total feed mixture on the expense of alfalfa hay in growing rabbit diets on growth performance ,nutrients digestibility, carcass traits and some microbial fermentations in digestive tract as an indicator for using it as anti microbial agent under desert conditions.
A total of 112 growing New Zealand white rabbits of both sexes(5 weeks old)were housed in equal 7 groups (16 rabbits per group, 8 ♀ + 8 ♂) each in four replicates. The control group and other six experimental groups were received isonitrgenous (16.0% CP) and iso caloric (2500 K cal DE/kg) diets. The proximate analysis showed that CCM (on air dry basis) contained 4.45% moisture, 72.35% organic matter (OM), 14.0% crude protein (CP), 14.9% crude fiber (CF); 3.0 % ether extract (EE), 22.20% ash and 40.45% nitrogen free extract (NFE). While, its digestible energy content was 2430 k cal/kg indicating its nutritious value in addition to its active medicinal substances. At 9, 11, 13 weeks of age: live body weight; body weight gain, feed conversion ratio (FCR), performance index (PI) and daily body weight gain were significantly (p<0.05) improved for rabbits received diet containing 16% CCM. While feed intake (g/rabbit) during experiment period was significantly (p<0.05)increased by increasing CCM level up to 16 % CCM then depressed with 20% levels .Mortality rate decreased for groups, fed 0, 2, 4, 8, 12, or 16% while increased at 20% CCM. Using 16% CCM in rabbit diets instead of alfalfa hay significantly (p<0.05) improved digestibility of CF and EE. However, digestibility of OM, CP and NFE were insignificantly affected. Group fed 16% CCM showed better dressing % than other groups, but ash content of meat increased by increasing dietary CCM level perhaps due to high ash content in Cotula cineria.
Total bacteria counts (TBC) was significantly (p<0.05) decreased in ileal and cecal contents by increasing dietary CCM level. As expected, increasing dietary CCM significantly (p<0.05)decreased pH of the caecum, indicating the protective effect of CCM against entropathogentic E. Coli infection by increasing VFA concentration .Groups fed 8, 16 % dietary CCM achieved better economic efficiency (EEf) than other treatments, but, the group fed 16% CCM recorded the best net revenue and FCR. .It is recommended to use Cotula cinerea meal (CCM) up to 16% as substitute for alfalfa hay of growing rabbit diets, to improve performance, digestibility, rabbit viability, carcass characteristics, economic efficiency and as a protector against some pathogenic bacteria.
Keywords: Cotula cinerea meal (CCM), digestibility, performance index (PI), Total Count Bacteria (TCB), economic efficiency.