Rabbit milk: A review of quantity, quality and non-dietary affecting factors


  • L. Maertens Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research
  • F. Lebas Cuniculture
  • Zs. Szendrö University of Kaposvár




rabbit, milk, quantity, quality, affecting factors, review


This literature review focuses on the milk yield and milk composition of rabbits and the non-nutritional factors affecting both quantity and quality. Actual highly efficient hybrid does have an average daily milk yield of 250 g or 60 g/kg of live weight during the 4-weeks lactation period. However, compared with cow and sow milk, rabbit’s milk is much more concentrated in fat (12.9 g/100 g), protein (12.3 g/100 g) and energy (8.4 MJ/kg) which explains the extremely rapid growth of the young (weight × 6 after 3 weeks). Characteristic of rabbit milk is also the nearly absence of lactose (<2 g/100 g). At peak lactation, protein output per kg metabolic weight (13.4 g/day/kg 0.75 ( exceeds even those of Holstein milk cows. The non-nutritional factors having the largest impact on the milk yield are the number of suckling kits, the parity order (primiparous  vs. multiparous) and the gestation overlapping degree (rapid decline after 17-20 days of gestation). However, also through the reduction of feed intake, heat stress has a detrimental impact especially when the night temperature remains above 25°C. Rabbit milk lipids are highly saturated (70.4% SFA) due to the high content of C8:0  – C12:0  (50% of total FA) and further characterised by nearly equal quantities of oleic and linoleic acid and an w-6/w-3 ratio around 4. Finally some data about the amino acid, milk proteins including the immmunoglobulins, mineral and vitamin composition are presented. 


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Author Biographies

L. Maertens, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research

Animal Science Unit

Zs. Szendrö, University of Kaposvár

Faculty of Animal Science