Effect of stocking density and group size on growth performance, carcass traits and meat quality of outdoor-reared rabbits.

Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa, Viale delle Piagge 2, 56124 Pisa, Italy. Electronic address: .
Meat Science (Impact Factor: 2.75). 08/2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2012.08.012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The effect of stocking density (16 rabbits/m(2), 5 rabbits/m(2), 2.5 rabbits/m(2), n=60, Experiment 1) and group size (4 rabbits/cage, 8 rabbits/cage, 16 rabbits/cage, n=88, Experiment 2) on productive performance, carcass and meat quality of a slow-growing rabbit population reared outdoors was investigated in two experiments. The highest stocking density induced the highest skin percentage. Lower stocking densities showed lower lightness of Biceps femoris and higher redness of Longissimus lumborum muscles. Four rabbits/cage group (Experiment 2) showed the highest daily weight gain and slaughter weight and the lowest skin percentage. The muscles of 16 rabbits/cage showed significantly higher pHu than 8 and 4 rabbits/cage. BF of 16 and 4 rabbits/cage showed higher L* value. Productive performance and meat quality of rabbits reared outdoors improved in low group size while stocking density needs more experiments. The best combination of density, group size and total available surface that showed the best production and carcass traits was of 5 rabbits/m(2), 4 rabbits/cage, and 0.8m(2).

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