The objective of the study was to determine the effect of age and gender on quality indices of New Zealand White rabbits (n = 60). The rabbits were slaughtered in the 12th, 21st. and 31st week of life. Based on the analyses performed, it was found that the meat of older rabbits contained significantly more protein and less intramuscular fat than the meat of younger rabbits. The water and ash content in the meat of rabbits in the age groups analysed was similar. The hardness, chewiness, and shear force of the rabbit meat increased along with the increasing age of the animals studied; as regards the other texture parameters (springiness and cohesiveness), the rabbit meat of the age groups studied did not significantly differ. The active acidity (pH values) of meat of the rabbits in the age groups studied meat was within the good meat quality standard range; however, 24 h after slaughter performed, the pH value of meat of the older rabbits was significantly higher than that of the younger rabbits (m. longissimus lumborum and biceps femoris). The meat from loin part (m. longissimus lumborum) of rabbits slaughtered at the age of 21 weeks was darker than the meat from rabbits slaughtered at the age of 12 and 32 weeks. 24 hrs after slaughter, as regards its lightness and its red colour component, the meat of rabbits in the age groups studied did not differ. But the value of the yellow colour component of the meat significantly decreased with the increasing age of the animals. The meat of hind part (m. biceps femoris) of the younger animals was lighter than the meat of older rabbits. 45 minutes after slaughter, the value of the red colour component of the meat of younger rabbits was lower, and 24 hrs after slaughter, it was closer to this parameter referring to the meat of older animals. Regarding the yellow colour component, the meet of rabbits in the age groups analysed did not significantly differ. The meat quality of males and females did not significantly differ, except for the pH value 24 h after slaughter (m. longissimus lumborum).
rabbits, meat quality, age, gender