Influence of Different Regimes of Moderate Maternal Feed Restriction during Pregnancy of Primiparous Rabbit Does on Long-Term Metabolic Energy Homeostasis, Productive Performance and Welfare

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In this study, a maternal feed restriction (MFR; 105 g/d) in primiparous rabbit does was applied from day 0 to 7 post artificial insemination (AI) (R07, n = 96), from day 7 to 21 post AI (R721, n = 92), from day 0 to 21 post AI (R021, n = 94) or fed ad libitum during whole pregnancy (Control, n= 92). Feed intake (FI) was measured after MFR was over. On day 28 of gestation, fetoplacental development was evaluated (n = 11/group) and the productive parameters of the remaining dams were analyzed. Plasma free tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine, glucose, insulin, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), and corticosterone were analyzed during gestation and lactation (n = 5/group). After MFR, all groups significantly increased their voluntary FI. The longer MFR was, the lower the weight and length of the fetuses, but no long-term effects over litter performance were observed. R021 groups had the lowest T3 and the highest NEFA concentrations during pregnancy and showed insulin resistance at the end of gestation, but during lactation, energy homeostasis was balanced in all groups. MFR did not affect corticosterone concentrations. In conclusion, the ration setting applied slightly involved the energy homeostasis and metabolism of the animals, but their overall metabolic condition, productive performance and welfare were not compromised.
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