Rabbit Weight Gain, Feed Efficiency, Rectal Temperature and Respiration Rate as affected by Building Thermal Environment in the Humid Tropical Climate of Southwestern Nigeria

L. A.O. Ogunjimi, G. A. Ogunwande, J. A. Osunade

Abstract


The effect of tropical climate of Southwestern Nigeria and building conditions on the weight
gain, feed efficiency and some physiological traits of weaner rabbits have been studied. The
study was carried out at the Animal Science section of the Teaching and Research Farm,
Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, (Latitude 070 28’N
and Longitude 040 33’E) during the dry season. The amount of opening (30% and 50%) and
building orientations of 45 and 90 degrees (to the direction of prevailing wind) were the
parameters considered in determining the effect of environment on the studied traits. The
rabbits were fed and watered ad libitum throughout the period of experiment. The amount of
feed consumed and weight gain by each rabbit was measured weekly while the rectal
temperature and respiration rate were measured twice a week to avoid undue stress on the
animals. It was observed that buildings in the tropical climate of the Southwestern Nigeria
produce a relatively higher temperature-humidity index (THI) values than those of the
temperate and subtropical areas and hence a more stressful production environment for
rabbits. However, both building ventilation opening level and orientation were observed to
have significant effects on the level of thermal comfort as measured by THI. The 90 degrees
orientation building provided lower values of THI for both the 30% and 50% opening pens.
Rabbits in the 90 degrees building pens for the two openings gained more weight, had higher
feed efficiency, lower rectal temperatures and respired less frequently than those rabbits in
the 45 degrees orientation pens. The rabbits in the 50% opening pens had better weight gain,
feed efficiency, and lower rectal temperature and respiration rates than those in the 30%
opening pens for both the 90o and 45o building orientations.

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