Natural Feed Additives and Novel Approaches for Healthy Rabbit Breeding

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2022) | Viewed by 23455

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Guest Editor
Institute of Animal Physiology, Centre of Biosciences of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Košice, Slovakia
Interests: phytoadditives; essential oils; bioavailability; absorption; deposition; oxidative stress; safety foods

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Guest Editor
Institute of Animal Physiology, Centre of Biosciences of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Košice, Slovakia
Interests: beneficial bacteria and their benefit, as well as bacteriocins produced by them, especially by the representatives of the genus Enterococcus; application in food-producing but also in other animals, in food of animal origin as well as the environment (animal waste) in in vitro, in situ and in vivo studies influencing physiological parameters and meat
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E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Animal Physiology, Centre of Biosciences of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Košice, Slovakia
Interests: beneficial bacteria; bacteriocins; enterococcus
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Rabbit meat offers excellent nutritive and dietetic properties, but digestive disturbances mainly during the post-weaning period create important economic losses for rabbit farmers. Recently, many studies have focused on feed additives which are able to improve the intestinal health and productivity of broiler rabbits. The main objectives of animal agriculture production are to produce safe food products, eliminating antibiotics with a low impact on environmental pollution. A great deal of interest has been expressed for safe and natural rabbit food with increased nutritional value without inducing bacterial resistance and potential side effect to animals. Natural feed additives such as prebiotics, beneficial microorganisms, organic acids, bacteriocins, and phytogenic compounds are able to match these requirements and can satisfy the increasing consumer demand for natural substances, but since they are represented as novel valuable substances, their research is an ongoing discipline.

 

Highly advanced research on these fields is welcomed in this Special Issue:

  • Herbal feed additives for functional food, modes of action;
  • Phytoadditives—current and future;
  • Effect of natural substances on rabbit production, performance, gastrointestinal microbiota, intestinal immunity and morphology, and health parameters;
  • Bacteriocins/enterocins—novel feed additives in rabbit nutrition;
  • Bioactive compounds—novel approaches to prevent gastrointestinal diseases and microbial disbalance (maintaining the intestinal health, microbial balance, stable intestinal immunity, and morphology);
  • Improvement of nutritional quality of rabbit meat.

Dr. Iveta Plachá
Dr. Monika Pogány Simonová
Dr. Andrea Lauková
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • natural additives
  • rabbit health
  • safety foods
  • bioactive compounds
  • phytoadditives
  • herbal extracts
  • bacteriocins
  • enterocins
  • feed efficiency
  • gut health and immunity
  • intestinal microbiota
  • caecal fermentation
  • blood biochemistry
  • intestinal morphology
  • rabbit meat as functional food

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 193 KiB  
Editorial
Natural Feed Additives and Novel Approaches for Healthy Rabbit Breeding
by Iveta Placha, Monika Pogány Simonová and Andrea Lauková
Animals 2022, 12(16), 2111; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12162111 - 17 Aug 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1250
Abstract
Rabbit meat offers excellent nutritive and dietetic properties, but digestive disturbances, mainly during the post-weaning period, induce important economic losses for rabbit farmers [...] Full article

Research

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10 pages, 431 KiB  
Article
Dietary Supplementation with Agave tequilana (Weber Var. Blue) Stem Powder Improves the Performance and Intestinal Integrity of Broiler Rabbits
by Yordan Martínez, Maidelys Iser, Manuel Valdivié, Manuel Rosales, Esther Albarrán and David Sánchez
Animals 2022, 12(9), 1117; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12091117 - 27 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1713
Abstract
This study evaluated the effect of Agave tequilana (Weber var. azul) stem powder on the growth performance and the intestinal integrity in rabbits. A total of 120 male rabbits [New Zealand × California] were weaned for 35 days and randomized into four dietary [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the effect of Agave tequilana (Weber var. azul) stem powder on the growth performance and the intestinal integrity in rabbits. A total of 120 male rabbits [New Zealand × California] were weaned for 35 days and randomized into four dietary treatments, 15 replicates per treatment, and two rabbits per replicate. The treatments consisted of a basal diet (T0) and dietary supplementation with 0.5% (T1), 1.0% (T2) and 1.5% (T3) of Agave tequilana stem powder. The T3 treatment improved the body weight and average daily gain (p < 0.05) compared to the other groups, without affecting viability and feed conversion ratio (p > 0.05). Furthermore, the T3 treatment enhanced (p < 0.05) the thickness of the muscular and mucous layers, and the height, thickness, and number of villi in the duodenum (p < 0.05). However, this treatment (T3) significantly decreased (p < 0.05) values for the area and depth of the crypts in the duodenum and the villus/crypt ratio. Likewise, in the cecum, T3 treatment provoked a marked decrease (p < 0.05) in the depth and thickness of the crypts. The results indicate that the dietary use with 1.5% of A. tequilana stem powder had a natural growth-promoting effect and enhanced the histomorphometry of the concentric layers (muscle and mucosa), villi, and crypts as indicators of intestinal health in rabbits. Full article
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11 pages, 431 KiB  
Article
Preventive Potential of Dipeptide Enterocin A/P on Rabbit Health and Its Effect on Growth, Microbiota, and Immune Response
by Monika Pogány Simonová, Ľubica Chrastinová, Jana Ščerbová, Valentína Focková, Iveta Plachá, Zuzana Formelová, Mária Chrenková and Andrea Lauková
Animals 2022, 12(9), 1108; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12091108 - 26 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1546
Abstract
The present study investigated the effect of the dipeptide enterocin (Ent) A/P on growth, immune response, and intestinal microbiota in rabbits. Eighty-eight rabbits (aged five weeks, M91 meat line, both sexes) were divided into three experimental groups: E (Ent A/P; 50 µL/animal/day for [...] Read more.
The present study investigated the effect of the dipeptide enterocin (Ent) A/P on growth, immune response, and intestinal microbiota in rabbits. Eighty-eight rabbits (aged five weeks, M91 meat line, both sexes) were divided into three experimental groups: E (Ent A/P; 50 µL/animal/day for 14 days; between 0–14 days); S (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis SE P3/Tr2a strain; 500 µL/animal/day for 7 days starting at day 14 to day 21); and E + S (Ent A/P between 0–14 days and SE P3/Tr2a strain between 14–21 days) groups, and the control group (C). The additives were administered in drinking water. Administration of Ent A/P lead to an increase in weight gain, reduction of feed conversion; phagocytic activity was stimulated and gut microbiota were optimized due to reduction of coliforms, total bacterial count, and methicillin-resistant staphylococci. Good health and increased weight gain also showed that methicillin-resistant S. epidermidis SE P3/Tr2a strain did not have any pathogenic effect on rabbits’ health status. Full article
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22 pages, 5106 KiB  
Article
The Effect of the Season, the Maintenance System and the Addition of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Selected Biological and Physicochemical Features of Rabbit Fur
by Katarzyna Roman, Martyna Wilk, Piotr Książek, Katarzyna Czyż and Adam Roman
Animals 2022, 12(8), 971; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12080971 - 08 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2053
Abstract
The aim of the study was to show the impact of environmental conditions and dietary supplementation with ethyl esters of linseed oil on the quality of the rabbit hair coat. The research was divided into 4 stages: laboratory (summer and winter) and outdoor [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to show the impact of environmental conditions and dietary supplementation with ethyl esters of linseed oil on the quality of the rabbit hair coat. The research was divided into 4 stages: laboratory (summer and winter) and outdoor (summer and winter). In each stage of the research, animals were divided into control and experimental groups. The animals were fed in accordance with the feeding standards of reproductive rabbits during the period of sexual dormancy. The rabbits from the experimental groups during the first two months were given an addition of ethyl linseed oil to the feed. In the experiment, linseed oil was cold-pressed directly in the laboratory. Three samples of hair were collected: before the study, after two months of treatment, and after two months from the end of supplementation. The hair coat biological properties, such as share of individual hair fractions (%), heat transfer index (HTI), hair diameter (μm), as well as physico-mechanical properties such as breaking force (N), breaking stress (kg/cm2) and elongation (%) were performed. Moreover, the histological structure of hair and histological hair evaluation were performed. The fatty acid profile was determined in the hair as well. The obtained results of the content of individual fatty acids were grouped into saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. In addition, omega-3 and omega-6 were distinguished from the group of unsaturated acids. The environmental conditions have a major impact on the quality of the rabbit coat. The best results of hair thickness and their heat protection were obtained from animals kept outdoors. The studies did not show an influence of the administered preparation on the quality of the rabbit coat. The hair became thinner, but more flexible and tear-resistant. Administration of linseed oil ethyl esters had significant, beneficial changes in the fatty acid profile in hair and hair sebum were observed. There was a significant increase in omega-3 acids, and a significant decrease in the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 acids. Full article
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13 pages, 2458 KiB  
Article
Effect of Dietary Rosemary and Ginger Essential Oils on the Growth Performance, Feed Utilization, Meat Nutritive Value, Blood Biochemicals, and Redox Status of Growing NZW Rabbits
by Mahmoud A. Elazab, Ayman M. Khalifah, Abdelmotaleb A. Elokil, Alaa E. Elkomy, Marwa M. Rabie, Abdallah Tageldein Mansour and Sabrin Abdelrahman Morshedy
Animals 2022, 12(3), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12030375 - 03 Feb 2022
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3097
Abstract
This study was conducted to assess the impacts of using two essential oils, rosemary and ginger, on growing rabbits’ performance, carcass traits, meat composition, blood biochemicals, and the redox status of growing New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits. A total of 120 unsexed NZW [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to assess the impacts of using two essential oils, rosemary and ginger, on growing rabbits’ performance, carcass traits, meat composition, blood biochemicals, and the redox status of growing New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits. A total of 120 unsexed NZW rabbits, 42-days-old, were assigned randomly to five experimental groups (n = 24, 6 replicates with 4 rabbits each). The first group received a basal diet (control), the second to fifth groups were dietary supplemented daily with rosemary essential oil (REO) and ginger essential oil (GEO) at doses of 0.25 and 0.5% for each supplementation (REO-0.25, REO-0.5, GEO-0.25, and GEO-0.5), respectively. The growth traits were studied for 7 weeks, from the 7th to the 13th week of the rabbits’ age. The results revealed that final body weight, weight gain, and average daily gain increased significantly (p < 0.01) in the REO-0.5 and GEO-0.5 treatments compared to the control group. Daily feed intake decreased (p = 0.005) in essential oil treatments. Meanwhile, the feed conversion ratio improved significantly (p = 0.001) in REO and GEO at the high doses compared to the control group. The weight percentages of liver and giblets increased (p < 0.001) with both treatments of REO and GEO compared to the control group. The dietary supplementation with REO and GEO did not affect (p > 0.05) the meat composition of Longissimus dorsi and hind leg muscles. Meanwhile, REO and GEO supplementation significantly decreased cholesterol levels in the rabbit meat. Thiobarbituric acid reactive substance concentrations decreased by 10 and 15% in the meat of REO-0.5 and GEO-0.5 treatments, respectively, compared to the other groups. In the same trend, REO and GEO treatments induced a significant (p = 0.001) reduction in the plasma cholesterol concentrations and triglycerides compared to the control. The total antioxidant capacity increased by 7.60% and the malondialdehyde decreased by 11.64% in the plasma of GEO-0.5 treatment than the control. Thus, the dietary supplementation of REO and GEO have a beneficial effect in improving the productivity and meat quality of growing rabbits. Full article
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18 pages, 3723 KiB  
Article
Dietary Supplementation with Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum) Modulates the Microbiota of Digestive Tract and Caecal Metabolites in Rabbits
by Paola Cremonesi, Giulio Curone, Filippo Biscarini, Elisa Cotozzolo, Laura Menchetti, Federica Riva, Maria Laura Marongiu, Bianca Castiglioni, Olimpia Barbato, Albana Munga, Marta Castrica, Daniele Vigo, Majlind Sulce, Alda Quattrone, Stella Agradi and Gabriele Brecchia
Animals 2022, 12(1), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12010121 - 05 Jan 2022
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2782
Abstract
Goji berries show health benefits, although the possible mechanisms of action, including compositional changes in the gut microbiome, are still not fully understood. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of Goji berry supplementation on microbiota composition and metabolites in [...] Read more.
Goji berries show health benefits, although the possible mechanisms of action, including compositional changes in the gut microbiome, are still not fully understood. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of Goji berry supplementation on microbiota composition and metabolites in the digestive tracts of rabbits. Twenty-eight New Zealand White rabbits were fed with a commercial feed (control group, C; n = 14) or the same diet supplemented with 3% of Goji berries (Goji group, G; n = 14), from weaning (35 days old) until slaughter (90 days old). At slaughter, samples from the content of the gastrointestinal tracts were collected and analyzed by Next Generation 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing to evaluate the microbial composition. Ammonia and lactic acid were also quantified in caecum. Results showed differences in microbiota composition between the groups for two phyla (Cyanobacteria and Euryarchaeota), two classes (Methanobacteria and Bacilli), five orders, fourteen families, and forty-five genera. Ruminococcaceae (p < 0.05) and Lachnospiraceae (p < 0.01) were more abundant in G than in C group. Lactobacillaceae also showed differences between the two groups, with Lactobacillus as the predominant genus (p = 0.002). Finally, Goji berry supplementation stimulated lactic acid fermentation (p < 0.05). Thus, Goji berry supplementation could modulate gastrointestinal microbiota composition and caecal fermentation. Full article
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10 pages, 632 KiB  
Article
Effect of Sustained Administration of Thymol on Its Bioaccessibility and Bioavailability in Rabbits
by Kristina Bacova, Karin Zitterl Eglseer, Gesine Karas Räuber, Lubica Chrastinova, Andrea Laukova, Margareta Takacsova, Monika Pogany Simonova and Iveta Placha
Animals 2021, 11(9), 2595; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092595 - 03 Sep 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1650
Abstract
The objective of this study was the detection of thymol in rabbit plasma, tissues, large intestinal content, and faeces. Forty-eight rabbits were divided into control and experimental groups (thymol 250 mg/kg feed). Thymol was administered for 21 days and then withdrawn for 7 [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was the detection of thymol in rabbit plasma, tissues, large intestinal content, and faeces. Forty-eight rabbits were divided into control and experimental groups (thymol 250 mg/kg feed). Thymol was administered for 21 days and then withdrawn for 7 days. Concentration of thymol in the intestinal wall (IW) was significantly higher than in plasma (p < 0.05) and liver (p < 0.05); in the kidneys it was significantly higher than in plasma (p < 0.05) and liver (p < 0.05) during thymol addition. Thymol in IW was significantly higher than in plasma also after withdrawal (p < 0.01). Significant correlation (rs = −1.000, p < 0.01) between IW and plasma points to the intensive absorption of thymol from the intestine, while the correlation between plasma and liver (rs = 0.786, p < 0.05) indicates intensive biotransformation and excretion processes in liver. Significant correlation between liver and kidney (rs = 0.738, p < 0.05) confirms the intensive metabolism of thymol in the kidney. During the withdrawal period, thymol was detected above trace amounts only in faeces, and was significantly higher than in the colon during both periods (p < 0.01). Results show intensive biotransformation of thymol in the rabbit organism. Full article
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15 pages, 1579 KiB  
Article
Effect of Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum) Supplementation on Reproductive Performance of Rabbit Does
by Egon Andoni, Giulio Curone, Stella Agradi, Olimpia Barbato, Laura Menchetti, Daniele Vigo, Riccardo Zelli, Elisa Cotozzolo, Maria Rachele Ceccarini, Massimo Faustini, Alda Quattrone, Marta Castrica and Gabriele Brecchia
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1672; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061672 - 03 Jun 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4592
Abstract
Goji berry shows a wide range of beneficial properties in human health, but only a few studies evaluated its effects in livestock animals. The objective of this research was to assess the effects of goji berry supplementation on the hormonal profile, productive, and [...] Read more.
Goji berry shows a wide range of beneficial properties in human health, but only a few studies evaluated its effects in livestock animals. The objective of this research was to assess the effects of goji berry supplementation on the hormonal profile, productive, and reproductive performance of does. Two months before artificial insemination, 105 nulliparous does were randomly divided into three groups (n = 35) based on the dietary treatment: commercial diet (C), or a diet supplemented with either 1% (G1), or 3% (G3) of goji berry, respectively. The results showed that receptivity was higher in G1 than in the C group (p < 0.05). Trends toward significance for differences between the G1 and G3 groups in marginal means of LH concentrations (p = 0.059), and between G1 and C in LH AUC values (p = 0.078), were evidenced. Estrogen concentrations showed a more fluctuating trend but a significant interaction effect (p < 0.001). The G1 group showed higher litter weight than C at birth (p = 0.008) and weaning (p < 0.001), as well as higher litter size at weaning (p = 0.020). The G1 group also exhibited the highest mean milk production (p < 0.01). In conclusion, goji berry influenced reproductive and productive performance, probably via modulating hormonal patterns and milk production in rabbits. However, further studies are needed to validate these preliminary results. Full article
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Review

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12 pages, 560 KiB  
Review
Current Knowledge on the Bioavailability of Thymol as a Feed Additive in Humans and Animals with a Focus on Rabbit Metabolic Processes
by Iveta Placha, Kristina Bacova and Lukas Plachy
Animals 2022, 12(9), 1131; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12091131 - 28 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2222
Abstract
The aim of this review is to describe the therapeutic effect of thymol on various human diseases, followed by its bioavailability in humans and animals. Based on our knowledge from the current literature, after thymol addition, thymol metabolites—mostly thymol sulphate and glucuronide—are detected [...] Read more.
The aim of this review is to describe the therapeutic effect of thymol on various human diseases, followed by its bioavailability in humans and animals. Based on our knowledge from the current literature, after thymol addition, thymol metabolites—mostly thymol sulphate and glucuronide—are detected in the plasma and urine of humans and in the plasma, intestinal content, faeces and tissues in rats, pigs, chickens, horses and rabbits after enzymatic cleavage. In rabbits, thymol absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, its distribution within the organism, its accumulation in tissues and its excretion from the organism have been described in detail. It is necessary and important for these studies to suggest the appropriate dose needed to achieve the required health benefits not only for animals but also for humans. Information from this review concerning the mode of action of thymol in animal organisms could also be applied to human medicine and may help in the utilisation of herbal medicine in humans and in veterinary healthcare. This review summarises the important aspects of thymol’s effects on health and its bioavailability in organisms, particularly in rabbits. In future, herbal-based drugs must be extensively investigated in terms of their mode of action, efficiency of administration and clinical effect. Full article
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