EFFECT OF OVAPRIM ADMINISTRATION ON SEMEN CHARACTERISTICS, SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTIVE PERFORMANCE OF RABBITS

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

1.1     BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Rabbits, Oryctolagus cunniculus, are small-sized pseudo-ruminants belonging to the family leporidae. They have a simple stomach and are known for characteristic long legs and ears with a short tail. The adult weighs between 2 and 3kg for light breeds, 3 and 5kg for medium breeds and 5kg for heavy breeds (Schiere, 1989).

The profitability of rabbit production as an enterprise depends on the number of rabbits kindled per doe per year and the postnatal survival of the kits (Dim et al., 1990). It has long been appreciated that regular and normal reproduction is the essential basis of a successful animal industry, including commercial milk and egg production (Alaku, 2013). A profitable rabbit production enterprise depends to a large extent on litter size per kindling per year coupled with high weaning weight, low or no mortality, early sexual maturity, high prolificacy and the ability to be rebred shortly after parturition; Nutrition is one of the factors that could limit productivity especially during pregnancy and lactation (Lukefahr et al., 1983; Raharjo et al., 1986).

Natural mating is the most common method used for breeding rabbits. Although, artificial insemination (AI) of rabbits has been developed and used in laboratory; very few commercial breeders use AI in their rabbitries (Ensminger, 1991).  Since the 1970’s, the use of artificial insemination in rabbit farms has been evaluated as an alternative to natural breeding (Battaglini et al., 1986; Theau-Clément and Roustan, 1992).

Several researches have been ongoing in recent past targeted towards enhancing the reproductive performance of farm animals through scientific approaches involving some kind of genetic, nutritional and physiological manipulations or interventions (Ajayi et al 2005; Herbert and Ukar 2008; El-Azim and El-Kamash, 2011).

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