The feeding value of mulberry leaves for rabbits was quantitatively evaluated based on a single-factor design with five levels in diets (0, 5, 10, 15 and 20%). Results showed that rabbits given mulberry at 20 and 15% had a relatively lower body weight gain, higher feed conversion ratio, and lower meat ether extract contents than that in the 0% group (P < 0.05). Increased activities of antioxidant enzymes and reduced formation of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances were detected in the plasma of mulberry-treated rabbits. Mulberry reduced the production of trichloroacetic acid perceptible N and NH3-N and increased total volatile fatty acids in rabbit cecum content through optimizing the intestinal micro-flora. Comparative analysis revealed that the content of phytochemicals in mulberry may be the main factor responsible for the feeding levels in rabbit diet, contributes to the effect of enhancing the antioxidant capacity of rabbit bodies and also optimizes intestinal micro-flora.
Key words: Animal nutrition, feed, rabbit, growth, health, blood, intestinal micro-flora.
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