The effect of genotype on the proximate composition and sensory properties of rabbit meat was evaluated using eighteen male and female California white, New Zealand white and Havana black rabbits. The rabbits were raised under the same feeding and housing management system and slaughtered at 12 weeks. They were properly bled and dressed. Proximate analysis was carried out on the meat samples. Cooked samples were evaluated on a 9-point scale for colour, flavour, taste, juiciness, tenderness, texture and overall acceptability. Data obtained was subjected to analysis of variance (SAS, 2010). California white had the highest mean value for crude protein (24.41±1.26%), moisture content (70.18±0.77%), ash content (3.65±0.66%), nitrogen free extract (7.56±0.05%) while it had the least mean value for fat (8.26±4.88%). Havana black rabbit had the highest fat content (18.49±2.74%) but had the least mean value for crude protein (15.05±2.85%) and ash content (0.91±0.10%) New Zealand breed had the least mean value for nitrogen free extract (2.59±0.51%). The genotype of rabbit also had significant (P<0.05) influence on the flavour, tenderness, juiciness and overall acceptability of the meat samples. Meat samples from Havana black rabbit had the best ranking for flavour, tenderness, juiciness and overall acceptability. However, the influence of breed was not significant (P>0.05) on the colour and texture of rabbit meat. In conclusion, genotype had significant influence on the chemical composition of rabbit meat. California white had better nutritive value and should be preferred to New Zealand and Havana black rabbit.
Key words: rabbit, meat, proximate composition, sensory properties