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A note concerning effects of genetic and non genetic factors on weaning weight of rabbits in Eastern Himalayan region of India

S K Das,  B P S Yadav and A K Sikka

Livestock and Fishery Improvement and Management Programme,
ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region, Patna - 800014, Bihar, India.


Data on different productive traits recorded from New Zealand White (NZW), Soviet Chinchilla (SC), Indigenous Meghalaya (LC) rabbit and Crossbred rabbit of SC and LC for a period of four years in the Rabbit Research Farm of the institute under Animal Production Division were analyzed statistically. Parity and litter size at birth had highly significant (P< 0.01) effect on litter weight at weaning. There were no effects of breed, season of weaning and litter size at weaning. 

Key Words: Breeds, rabbits, season, weaning weight


Rabbit is introduced in India hardly three decade ago as an alternative source of meat production. Farming of rabbits is gaining popularity due to their high reproductive potential since they are induced ovulators, so can be bred throughout the year. They have high mothering ability and are capable of producing four crops per year and six kits in each birth (Lukefahr and Cheeke 1990; El - Raffa 2004). So, it is quite feasible to obtain twenty four kits per year per doe. They have also high capacity to utilize forages. 

Post weaning growth is dependent on weaning weight. If weaning weight is high then it is expected that post weaning growth rate would be high. Weaning weight being a moderately heritable trait is normally used for selection of does for breeding purposes. .However, in India information on different factors effecting weaning weight for commercial rabbit farming is scanty. So, an effort was made to conduct a study regarding the effect of different factors such as breed, parity, season of weaning, litter size at birth and litter size at weaning on weaning weight of broiler rabbit under the sub temperate agro-climatic condition of Eastern Himalayas with the following objectives :-

Materials and Methods

Data on different productive traits recorded from New Zealand White (NZW), Soviet Chinchilla (SC), Local (LC) and Crossbred rabbits for a period of four years in the Rabbit Research Farm of the institute under Animal Production Division were analyzed statistically. The data set comprised 328 records of NZW, 242 of SC, 282 of LC and 124 of crossbreds (SC*LC). Rabbits were housed in indoor cage system and and fed 50 % concentrate and 50 % forages, including vegetables, grass, tree leaves and fodder crops.

The composition of the concentrate was:  ground maize  40 %, wheat bran  22 %, groundnut cake 25 %, fish meal 5 %, molasses 5 %, vitamin-mineral mixture 2.5 %, common salt 0.5 %. It was  analyzed as per methods described in AOAC (1980). The proximate composition was DM 93.0, and in the DM, crude protein 14.1, ash 7.12, ether extract 10.3, crude fibre 10.6,  NFE  57.8, respectively. Litter weight at weaning was determined by taking the weight of all the litters together at the time of weaning, while individual weight of kits was calculated by dividing the litter weight by litter size at weaning. Data on litter weight at weaning were classified as per season: summer, rainy and winter. All data were classified into four groups based on parity such as 1st and 2nd parity in Group 1, 3rd and 4th parity was designated as Group 2, 5th and 6th parity Group 3.  Data on litter weight at weaning were classified into three groups made on the basis of litter size at birth: Group1 litter size at birth 5 and below, Group 2  litter size at birth 6; and Group 3 litter size at birth 7 and above. Similarly, data on litter weight at weaning were classified into three on the basis of litter size at weaning,: litter size at weaning  4 and below designated Group 1,  litter size at weaning 5 in Group 2, litter size at weaning 6 and above designated Group 3. Different meteorological parameters were recorded as per bulletin of IMD (1991). Statistical Analysis of the data was done as per methods described in Snedecor and Cochran (1967) using the SPSS computer software.. .

Results and Discussion

Average air temperature, maximum temperature, minimum temperature and relative humidity during the period of study were 26.6 ± 0.43 C, 28.8 ± 0.44 C, 20.4 ± 0.98 C and 76.6 ± 1.13 % respectively.

The only factors that influenced litter weaning weight were parity, with a linear negative trend,  and litter size at birth with differences between litter size of 4 and 5 or above (Table 1). De Paula et al (1996) also recorded a significant decrease in litter weight due to advancing parity.

Table 1: Effect of different factors on weaning weight of rabbits

Source of variation

Least squares means
 and SEM


New Zealand White

445   2.15 (328)#


Soviet Chinchilla

449   2.72 (241)


Local indigenous breed

458   2.49 (282)


Cross bred

428   2.07 (124)



448 7.28 (975)




469 a 2.35 ( 285)

P-2 (3-4)

445 b 2.14 (267)

P-3 (5-6)

424 c 1.25 (225)

P-4 (7-8)

412 d 1.26 (153)


441 1.21(930)

Season of weaning


450   2.38 (225)


440   1.98 (320)


450   11.6 (330)


447 4.47 (875)

Litter Size at Birth

Group 1 ( 5 and below)

427 b 1.69 (272)

Group 2 (6)

444 a 2.47 (326)

Group 3 (7 and above)

446 a 2.14 (283)


439 1.28881

Litter Size at Weaning

Group 1(4 and below)

440   1.82 (440)

Group 2 (5)

440   2.10 (296)

Group 3 (6 and above)

444   2.92 (178 )


441 1.24 (914)

abcd Means within sources of variation having different superscripts differ at P < 0.05
# Numbers of observations in parenthesis



The authors are thankful to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research for providing funds through the National Agricultural Technology Project. The assistance of  H S Nongkynrih is acknowledged for day-to-day help in data recording.


AOAC 1980  Official Methods of Analysis, 13 th edition. Association of Analytical Chemists Washington DC, USA.

De Paula M G, Pontes J R , Ferraz J B S and Eler J P 1996 Breed and some non genetic effects on growth of California and New Zealand White Rabbit raised in South Eastern Brazil. In the proceedings of 6th World Rabbit Congress held at Toulouse, France, 9 - 12th July, 1996, P 269- 272.

El - Raffa A M 2004 Rabbit Production in hot climates. In the proceedings of 8th World Rabbit Congress held at Puebla, Mexico, 7 - 10th September, 2004, P 1172 - 1180.

IMD 1991  Introduction Bulletin of Indian Meteorological Department, Pune, Maharastra.

Lukefahr S D and Cheeke P R 1990  Rabbit Project Planning Strategies for developing countries (1) Practical considerations. Livestock Research for Rural Development. 2 (3) : 2.

Snedecor G W and Cochran W G 1967 Statistical Methods. 6th edition.  Oxford and IBH Publishing Company.

Received 5 November 2006; Accepted 11 June 2007; Published 6 July 2007

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