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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.20.0540    [Accepted] Published online October 22, 2020.
Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Growth Performance, Carcass Traits, Meat Quality, and Hair Follicle Development of Rex Rabbits
Yang Feng1  , Hao Shi1  , Shuangbao Gun1,* 
College of Animal Science and Technology, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou,730070, China
Correspondence:  Shuangbao Gun, Tel: +869317631804, Fax: +869317631225, Email: gunsb@gsau.edu.cn
Received: 30 July 2020   • Revised: 17 September 2020   • Accepted: 21 October 2020
Abstract
Objective
This study aimed to investigate the effect of different environmental enrichment materials on the growth performance, carcass traits, meat quality, and hair follicle development of growing Rex rabbits.
Methods
One hundred and twenty Rex rabbits were randomly divided into four groups; reared in conventional cages (not enriched) and in enriched cages with either willow stick (WS), rubber duck (RD), or a can containing beans (CB), for 44 days.
Results
The average daily gain of the CB group was the highest and had a significant difference from that of the other groups (P < 0.05). The spleen and cecum weight of the CB group was greater than those of the WS and control groups (P < 0.05). The redness (CIE a*) of the meat sample of the control group was lower than those of the enriched cage groups (P < 0.05). Moreover, the hue value of the CB group was significantly lower than that of the other groups (P < 0.05). The tenderest meat belonged to the CB group. In addition, more secondary (P < 0.05) and primary follicles were found in the CB group than in the control group.
Conclusion
Environmental enrichment increased the average daily gain and improved some carcass traits, meat quality, and hair follicle density. Among the three environmental enrichment materials, CB could be recommended for rabbit husbandry.
Keywords: Rex Rabbits; Environmental Enrichment; Growth Performance; Carcass Trait; Meat Quality; Hair Follicle


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