Effect of age and body weight on carcass traits and meat composition of rabbits
Abstract. A total of 238 Pannon White growing rabbits were slaughtered at 74, 84 and 94 days of age, at an average body weight of 2.53, 2.84 and 3.15 kg, respectively. Within each age group five body weight categories were formed in such a way that the weight difference between two neighbouring groups was equally 0.3 kg. The design of the experiment permitted the separate examination of the effects exerted by age and body weight on carcass traits and on meat chemical composition of the left hind leg (HL) and that of m. Longissimus dorsi (MLD). Dressing out percentage significantly increased with the increase of age in all body weight categories, as well as with the increase of body weight. The effect of age on the ratio of the fore part of the carcass depended on the body weight: significant difference was found in lower body weight categories. The ratio of the intermediate part of the carcass was not affected by age but it increased in rabbits of higher body weight. The ratio of the hind part of the carcass increased in older animals, while it decreased in rabbits of higher body weight, and this decrease was higher in older rabbits. The ratio of the perirenal fat to reference carcass significantly decreased with age in all body weight categories, but it significantly increased in rabbits of higher body weight. With the advancement of age the moisture content of the HL increased, while that of the MLD did not change. With the increase of body weight, moisture content decreased in both the HL and in the MLD. The fat content of both HL and MLD decreased in older animals, while it increased in rabbits of higher body weight.