The rabbit production in the EU (50.000 breeding units) show a deficit in the UE and is in active competition with east countries and China. As the feeding cost represent the two-third of the total cost, the optimisation of the feeding (feed quality and control of nutritive value) is a key-step to maintain the level of profitability of this production.
The central objective of this UE concerted action is to harmonise and to improve the methods for evaluating compound feeds and raw materials used in rabbit nutrition. In addition, the project aims to conduct research for developing new methods for the prediction of the nutritive value of feeds, in order to replace in-vivo experiments and offer to professionals efficient routine methods. These objectives could only be achieved if a complete concertation and cooperation between the different research teams is obtained. Thus, a network structure is indispensable for such a project aiming to harmonise feed evaluation methods in the EU. In this way, from 1990, 6 European research teams "ECRAN' (European Group on Rabbit Nutrition) decided to cooperate on a common research program aiming to study the rabbit nutrition, and in a first step the methodology of feed evaluation. EGRAN will be the basis of this concerted action project.
The project is divided into 3 main inter-connected tasks (fig. A), and the total duration is five years.
Task 1: Standardisation of in-vivo digestibility determination of compound feeds (STAND).
The first aim is to harmonise, not only the in-vivo procedure, but also the whole analytical chain necessary to obtain precise digestibility measurements (sub-task 1.a: STANDIT). It is in continuation to a preliminary study on standardisation of in-vivo digestibility determination, performed between 1991 and 1994 by the EGRAN group. Harmonisation of chemical analyses is also a necessary step to improve the precision of prediction equations of feeds and feedstuffs based on chemical criteria (task 3). The second aim concern the improvement and the harmonisation of ileal digestibility procedures (sub-task 1.b: STANDIN)
Task 2: Study of the nutritive value of raw materials (NWAR). Two aims are considered here. The first one concern the achievement of a database (FEDA) containing nutritive value of feedstuffs used in rabbit nutrition. The second one concern the proposition and the validation of methods for the in-vivo study of the nutritive value of feedstuffs (including the adoption of a common energetic system) and more especially those implicated in digestive associative effects (MEV).
Task 3: Development and validation of prediction methods for the evaluation of compound feeds and feedstuffs (PREVAL).
Three methodologies will be used, based on: near-infrared spectrophotometry, enzymatic and caecal incubation methods, chemical parameters (rasp. NIRS, SIMUL, PRECHEM). The aims are:
- Development of new in-vitra evaluation methods based on previous preliminary studies performed by EGRAN members in the past three years: application of the NIRS methodology to rabbit feed and feedstuffs, simulation of the rabbit digestion using one-step or two step incubation methods.
- Improvement of prediction equations using chemical parameters.
The main results of the project will be the achievement of a synthetic book or handbook containing: European standardised invivo and in-vitro evaluation methods of the nutritive value of raw materials and compound feeds for the rabbit, European tables describing the nutritive value of raw materials. Additional results will be the constitution of an electronic database on feedstuffs nutritive value. Intermediate results will be: scientific publications and work progress reports.
Economical benefit will be obtained through the optimisation of the feeding, the use of vegetal by-products and through a reduction of digestive diseases. The optimisation of the feed utilisation corresponds also to a reduction of the nitrogen and mineral output (faeces and urine) in the environment. Maintaining the rabbit breeding in the UE presents great Socioeconomical benefits, as rabbit is mainly produced in small scaled units (without specific conditions of implantation, climate etc..) thus sustaining an active rural tissue whatever the region.
Funding SchemeCON - Coordination of research actions
35020 Legnaro Padova