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Effect of balanced dietary protein on the physico-chemical quality and sensory attributes of rabbit meat from New Zealand white and Californian rabbits.

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The study was conducted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Ukulinga Research farm Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (SA) with the aim of investigating the effect of balanced dietary protein on physico-chemical quality and sensory attributes of New Zealand white (NZW) and Californian (CAL) rabbits. A total of eighty (80) NZW and CAL rabbits were allocated to a diet composed of six balanced dietary protein levels (T1 = 126g/kg, T2 = 143g/kg, T3 = 161g/kg, T4 = 178g/kg, T5 = 196g/kg and T6 = 213g/kg) at weaning age (35 days) for a period of 56 days. The rabbits were fed twice a day at 08:00 am and t 16:00 pm with water provided ad libitum. Meat quality traits which include pH, colour (L*, a* and b*), water holding capacity, cooking loss, shear force and drip loss were measured. No significant effects were found for pH values between the two breeds at pH45 and pH24. No significant differences were observed in colour (L*, a* and b*), water holding capacity (WHC), drip loss (DL), cooking loss (CL) and shear force values of meat. Sensory attributes of the meat from New Zealand (NZW) and Californian (CAL) were also evaluated using different tribes (Xhosa, Zulu and Shona), gender and ages with different cooking methods (cooking and frying). In this study, the first bite was rated superior (P < 0.05) in NZW breed for cooked meat. High scores were observed in overall flavour intensity for fried meat in NZW breed (P < 0.05). In relation to tribes, Shona tribe gave higher scores (P < 0.05) for both cooked and fried meat for all sensory properties. Age was observed to have a significant impact whereby the highest scores (P < 0.05) for sustained impression of juiciness from fried meat were given by respondents in age group 26-30 years. High sensory evaluation scores (P < 0.05) were observed in both females and males in fried meat than cooked meat for all sensory characteristics. Highest scores (P < 0.05) were detected in overall flavour intensity of fried meat in all tribes. The sensory scores for fried meat were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than cooked meat across age group between 21-25 and 26-30 years of age. It was concluded that the physico-chemical quality of NZW and CAL rabbits was not altered by the balanced dietary protein, 73 and consumer’s demonstrated to have a higher preferred fried meat than cooked meat based on the scores given by the respondents.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.