Dietary Artemisia vulgaris meal improved growth performance, gut microbes, and immunity of growing Rex rabbits

Artemisia vulgaris (A. vulgaris) is edible, antioxidant, and antibacterial, but its meal as a feed additive or forage source on the herbivorous growth and health is unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effect of A. vulgaris meal supplementation on the growth performance, gut microbes, and immune function. A total of 120 growing Rex rabbits were randomly allocated into 4 treatments with 6 replicates of 5 rabbits each. There were four experimental diets containing A. vulgaris meal at doses of 0, 3.0, 6.0 or 9.0%, respectively. The trial lasted for 70 d. The results showed that diets supplemented with A. vulgaris meal improved the feed intake, body weight gain, and decreased feed conversion ratio (P<0.05), and linear and quadratic responses were found between the growth parameters and the herbal meal doses (P≤0.002). A. vulgaris meal also improved gut microbe populations by increasing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, and decreasing E. coli, C. perfringens, Salmonella, and Gram negative bacteria (P<0.05), and linear and quadratic dose advantages were exhibited for these microbes (P≤0.013). Furthermore, blood levels of IgA, IgM, and lymphocytes of bursal, thymus, CD4 and CD8 were increased in the treatments containing A. vulgaris meal (P<0.05), and linear dose effect was found on these immune indexes (P<0.001). It can be concluded that diet supplemented with A. vulgaris meal is effective in improving growth, gut microbes, and immunity of Rex rabbits.

© 2019 Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences