Drinking Warm Water Improves Growth Performance and Optimizes the Gut Microbiota in Early Postweaning Rabbits during Winter.


State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China. [Email]


Accumulating evidence indicates that cold exposure changes the composition of the gut microbiota and reduces intestinal immunity in early postweaning livestock. However, little is known about the effects of drinking warm water (WW) on gut microbiota during winter. In this study, we investigated the effects of drinking WW in winter on the growth performance and gut microbiota structure of rabbits raised in poorly insulated housing from the early postweaning period (day 46) to the subadult period (day 82). The average daily gain and feed conversion ratio in rabbits drinking WW were significantly improved compared to those of the rabbits drinking cold water (CW) during 47-58 days. In addition, rabbits drinking WW had a significantly decreased the risk of diarrhea during 71-82 days. 16S rRNA sequence analysis revealed that the alpha diversity of the cecal microbiota was not significantly different between the WW and CW groups, but significantly increased with age. The relative abundance of cecal microorganisms, such as Coprococcus spp. was considerably increased at day 70 in the group drinking WW. Correlation analysis indicated that Coprococcus spp. was negatively associated with pro-inflammatory factors. In conclusion, our results suggest that drinking WW has a positive effect on growth performance and gut microbiota in rabbits during the early postweaning stage in winter.


cecal microbiota,gut health,rabbit,water temperature,welfare,winter,