Preliminary study: fibre content in pet rabbit diets, crude fibre versus total dietary fibre

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Fibre is an important nutrient for rabbit health, and, on commercial pet rabbit packaging, it is labelled as crude fibre (CF). In several species, it is considered that CF is not an accurate representation of the fibre content in feedstuffs. The objective of this study was to compare the CF stated on the label (CFL) with laboratory analysis of CF (CFA) and the analysed content of total dietary fibre (TDF) in different commercial pet rabbit feeds. We selected 15 commercial diets and analysed CF and TDF. A mixed model was used to evaluate differences between CFL, CFA and TDF, and linear regression was performed to study the correlation between CFL and CFA with TDF. CFA and CFL were not significantly different (p = 0.836) in the feeds studied, and both were lower than TDF (p < 0.001). The correlations between TDF and both CFA and CFL were significant (p < 0.001 and p = 0.02, respectively), but the correlation was better with CFA (R = 0.86) than with CFL (R = 0.53). As expected, TDF content was higher than CF content, an average of two times. These results suggest that the CF content in rabbit diets reported on the label is not an appropriate indicator of their total fibre content, although further work with a larger sample size is required to confirm these results.

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