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PROJECT TOPIC: GROWTH AND CARCASS CHARACTERISTICS OF WEANER RABBITS FED MORINGA (MORINGA OLEIFERA) LEAF MEAL

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0     INTRODUCTION

The increasing demand for animal protein coupled with more stringent economic conditions have encouraged greater interest in fast growing animals with short generation interval.  Poultry and pigs are the first choice but their production is more demanding because of the high cost of production and competition with man for feedstuffs. Fetuga (1997) reported on the disappointing rate and level of performance in the livestock industry in Nigeria.  This he attributed, among other factors, to high cost of feeds arising largely from fluctuations in feed supplies, rising prices of ingredients, poor quality feeds, inefficiency in production and distribution in the feed industry. 

          Many investigators have suggested ways of increasing the low animal protein intake of Nigerians.  One of the cheapest producers of meat that can easily fit into the wider segment of the population but which has been neglected in Nigeria is the rabbit.  The rabbit has the ability to convert feedstuff such as forages, most agricultural by-products, kitchen waste etc that human being cannot consume directly into highly nutritious meat.  Rabbits are highly prolific, cheap to feed because they can utilize roughage feeds, they have rapid growth rate, high dressing percentage, short gestation period and low purchasing price.  However, efficient rabbit production is largely dependent upon adequate and correct nutrition (Standford 1979). There is no rabbit so good that poor nutrition will not ruin nor any bad one that good feeding will not improve.

          A rabbit which is not well fed can not give its best, and when it is realised that the greatest cost of producing rabbits lies in the nutrition, correct feeding therefore becomes of utmost importance to the rabbit producer.  The quantity of feed provided is important but the quality or type of feed is more important because poor nutrition result in slow growth rate, inefficient reproduction and predisposes the animals to diseases.



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