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Effects of four diets on bodyweight and body condition in rabbits

J. L. Prebble, D. J. Shaw, A. L. Meredith

AS with other companion animal species, obesity is an increasing concern in pet rabbits, with studies reporting obesity prevalences of between 7 and 24 per cent. This study aimed to assess the effects of four diet regimes on weight gain and body condition score in rabbits.

Thirty-two Dutch rabbits were included in the study. At around four months of age, they were randomly assigned to four groups of eight and fed one of four diets: unlimited hay only; extruded pellets (50 g per day) and unlimited hay; muesli (60 g per day) and unlimited hay; and muesli only (125 g per day). The rabbits were kept on the assigned diets and monitored for nine months.

At the beginning of the study, there were no significant differences in bodyweight between the groups. All groups gained weight during the study period, but by the end of the trial there were significant differences between the groups in terms of weight. Rabbits on the muesli-only diet were on average 146 per cent heavier than rabbits given only hay (2.59 kg versus 1.80 kg). The rabbits fed extruded pellets and hay were 125 per …

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