Replacing starch by pectin and inulin in diet of early-weaned rabbits: effect on performance, health and nutrient digestibility
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Research Institute of Animal Production, CZ-104 01 Prague 10, Czech Republic
Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, Czech Academy of Sciences, CZ-142 20 Prague 4, Czech Republic
Publication date: 2005-03-18
Corresponding author
Z. Volek   

Research Institute of Animal Production, CZ-104 01 Prague 10, Czech Republic
J. Anim. Feed Sci. 2005;14(2):327-337
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of partial replacement of starch by pectin or pectin and inulin in a diet of early-weaned rabbits. A total of 180 (60 per group) and 18 (6 per group) rabbits, 21 days old at the beginning of the experiment, were used for growth performance and intestinal traits evaluation, respectively. Digestibility of nutrients was measured individually (9 rabbits per group) between 49-53 days of age. A control, P (pectin) and PI (pectin+inulin) diet were formulated. The control diet (18.6% starch, 4.3% pectins) was fed to rabbits of the 1st group from weaning to slaughter at the age of 77 days. Diets P (12.5% starch, 9.0% pectins) and PI (10.3% starch, 9.0% pectins, supplemented with 4% inulin) were fed to rabbits of the respective group from weaning to 42 days of age, then rabbits received the control diet till slaughter. For the intestinal measurements, rabbits were slaughtered at the age of 42 days. Rabbits fed the control, P and PI diet gained on average 43.9, 44.6 and 45.0 g/d, respectively. For the whole fattening period, the lowest mortality was observed in rabbits fed the PI diet (25.0, 33.3 and 43.3% in rabbits fed the PI, control and P diet, respectively; P=0.10). Total VFA concentration in the caecum of rabbits fed diet supplemented with inulin (PI diet) was significantly higher (P=0.02) and the pH lower (P<0.001) than in the caecum of others rabbits. The viscosity of the small intestinal contents was higher in rabbits fed P and PI diet than in control (P=0.10). The significantly higher digestibility of crude protein (P<0.01), as well as starch was observed in rabbits fed control diet than in other rabbits. It can be concluded that a partial replacement of starch by digestible fibre in a diet of early-weaned rabbits did not improve their health. The high mortality rate, however, was decreased by supplementation of the starter diet with 4% of inulin.
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