Morphometric analysis of the gastrointestinal tract of rabbits fed mulberry forage and sugarcane stems

Ysnagmy Vázquez, M. Valdivié, I. Berrios, E. Sosa


An amount of 30 rabbits (New Zealand x Chinchilla), 40 d old and 600 ± 50 g of liveweight were used in a completely randomized design, to study the effect of an alternative feeding system with mulberry forage and sugar cane stems on gastrointestinal organs. The treatments were: control diet with restricted feed (100 g) plus mulberry forage ad libitum and an alternative system with sugar cane stem ad libitum, mulberry forage ad libitum and 30 g of feed/rabbit/d (experimental). At the end of fattening, animals were slaughtered and the different sections of the digestive tract were isolated. The entire gastrointestinal tract and digestive organs (stomach, small intestine, cecum and colon-rectum) were weighed full and empty. Accessory organs (liver and pancreas) and the spleen were also weighed. The length of small intestine, cecum and rectum was measured and the absolute, relative and metabolic weights of the different segments and organs described above were obtained. Rabbits fed with the experimental treatment had lower absolute weight of the full stomach (56.03 g) and empty (30.18  g), as well as lower absolute and metabolic weight of the empty cecum (19.52 g and 0.07 g LW 0.75-1, respectively). Absolute weight of the liver decreased (P <0.05) with the inclusion of the alternative system. However, no differences were found in relative and metabolic weights. The use of the alternative system is feasible because it does not find a negative influence on the morphometry of the gastrointestinal organs of rabbits.
Keywords: alternative feed, rabbits, sugar cane fiber, morphometry

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