The experiment was conducted to measure the effect of age and sex on growth traits and their relationships in rabbits. 96 8-weeks-old (male and female) weaned composite rabbits were used in a completely randomized experiment. Data was analysed with the General Linear Model procedure of SAS (version 9.4). Differences between means were separated with the Tukey Comparison Method at 5% probability level. Body weight of the rabbits significantly increased as they grew from week 8 (577.51g) to 2090.51g in the 20th week. Sex had no significant effect on the rabbits’ body weight and post weaning average daily gain (PWADG) but the males were heavier than the females at all ages except the weaning age. There was medium to high positive correlation (r = 0.379 to r = 0.974) between body weights at all ages. The association between body weight and PWADG was negatively low in the younger animals, but the traits however had positive but low to medium correlation from week BW14 to BW20. Body weight of the does had low to high and positive correlations among the different ages. The younger does up to week 12 presented negative relationship between body weight and PWADG but from week 13 to week 20, the duo related positively. Body weight of the bucks had medium (0.455) to high (0.979) positive associations among the ages. Body weight and PWADG had negative correlation in the younger bucks up to week 13 except for week 12 (r = 0.051) but correlated positively in the older females from week 14. Growth rate is faster in younger rabbits than older ones and so younger rabbits must be managed adequately up to week 16 to boost their system for growth and to reach marketable sizes early. Bucks increase in weight faster than the does, and so must be housed separately to avoid bullying. For improved body weight, rabbits should be selected for breeding at a younger age.
rabbits, body weight, sex, age, correlation
Abdullah, A. R., Sokunbi, O. A., Omisola, O.O., & Adewumi, M. K. (2003). Interrelations between bodyweight and body linear measurements in domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of Nigerian Society of Animal Production, Nigeria, 133-136.
Akpa, G. N., 2000. Factors affecting growth and body measurements of traditionally-managed Red Sokoto goats. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of Nigerian Society of Animal Production, Umudike, Nigeria, 462-463.
Apori, S. O., Hagan, J. K., & Osei, Y. D. (2014). Growth and reproductive performance of two rabbit breeds reared under intensive system in Ghana. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 46(7), 14-20.
Ayo-Ajasa, O. Y., Wheto, M., Egbeyale, L. T., Njoku, C. P., Sanwo, K. A., & Azeez, F. A. (2018). Prediction of body live weight from body length and heart girth of rabbit. Nigerian Journal of Animal Science, 20(4), 333-337.
Banson, K. E., Muthusamy, G., & Kondo, E. (2015). The Import Substituted Poultry Industry; Evidence from Ghana. International Journal of Agriculture and Forestry, 2015, 5(2), 166-175.
Blanco, A. E., Icken, W., Ould-Ali, D., Cavero, D., & Schmutz, M. (2014). Genetic parameters of egg quality traits on different pedigree layers with special focus on dynamic stiffness. Poultry Science, 93(10), 2457-2463.
Dalle Zotte, A. (2014). Rabbit farming for meat purposes. Animal Frontiers, 4(4), 62-67.
Egena, S. S. A., Akpa, G. N., Aremu, A., & Alemede, I. C. (2014). Sources of shared variability in body weight and linear body measurement traits of two breeds of rabbit. International Journal of Plant, Animal and Environmental Science, 4(2), 141-145.
Ekpenyem, B. U. (2002). The growth responses of weaner- pigs fed varying levels of palm kernel cake. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Annual Conference of Nigerian Society of Animal Production, Akure, 156-159.
Gatford, K. L., Egan, A. R., Clarke, I. J., & Owen, P. C. (1998). Sexual dimorphism of the somatotrophic axis. Journal of Endocrinology, 157(3) 373-389.
Godfrey, K. M., & Barker, D. J (2001). Foetal programming and adult health. Public Health Nutrition, 4(2B), 611-624.
Herbert, U. (2011). Unending seeds and waters of animal life. Proceedings of the 12th Inaugural lecture series of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Nigeria, 9th November 2011, 1-41.
Hernández, P., & Dalle Zotte, A. (2010). Influence of diet on rabbit meat quality. In C. de Blas & J. Wiseman (Eds.). The nutrition of the rabbit (pp. 163-178). Oxon, UK: CABI Publishing.
Mutai, F. K., Kasili, R. W., Mamati, E. G., Mwangi, J. M., & Auma, S. A. (2018). Assessment of relationship between body weight and biometric traits using path analysis in Kenyan domesticated rabbits. Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare, 8(8), 9-14.
Okoro, V. M. O., Ezeokeke, C. T., Ogundu, U. E., & Chukwudum, C. (2010). Phenotypic correlation of bodyweight and linear body measurement in Chinchilla rabbits (Orycotolagus cuniculus). Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology and Sustainable Development, 2(2), 027-029.
Ologbose, F. I., Ajayi, F. O., Agaviezor, B. (2017). Effect of breeds, sex and age on interrelationship between body weight and linear body measurement in rabbits. Journal of Fisheries and Livestock Production, 5(3), 250.
Olutogun, O., Abdullah, A. R., Raji, A. O., Adetoro, P. A., & Adeyemi, A. (2003). Body conformation characteristics of white Fulani and Gudali (Zebu) cattle breeds of Nigeria. Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Society for Animal production, Ibadan, Nigeria, 129-132.
Petrescu, D. C., Oroian, I. G., Mihaiescu, T., Paulette, L., Varban, D., & Patrutoiu, T. C. (2013). Rabbit statistics overview: production, trade, market evolution. Rabbit Genetics, 3(1):15-22.
Petrescu-Mag, R. M., Oroian, I. G., Botha, M., Covrig, I., & Petrescu-mag, I. V. (2014). Morphological, productive and reproductive characterization of the Transylvanian giant rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus): first statistical report. North-Western Journal of Zoology, 10(2), 400-403.
Shawulu, J.C. and I.E. Ajayi, (2011). The Effect of Sexual Dimophism on Some Cranio- Morphometrical Indices in the New Zaeland White Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Jounal of Agriculture and Veterinary Science, 3, 73-80.
Udeh. (2013). Prediction of body weight in rabbits using Principal Component Factor Scores in Multiple Linear Regression Model, Rabbits Genetics, 3(1), 1–6.