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Welfare aspects in rabbit rearing and transport

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Author(s): Marina Verga | Fabio Luzi | Massimiliano Petracci | Claudio Cavani

Journal: Italian Journal of Animal Science
ISSN 1594-4077

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1s;
Start page: 191;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Rabbit | Welfare | Husbandry systems | Management | Transport.

ABSTRACT
The review starts with the description of the rabbits’ (Oryctolagus cuniculus) main habits and the current situation concerning the rabbit husbandry and management systems, as well as their effects on the welfare of these animals. As far as the intensive rabbit husbandry systems are concerned, the main problems are related to the time since rabbits have been domesticated and their adaptive capacity and coping styles as respects the farming environment and management systems. Both these aspects have implications in the present and future of rabbit rearing for different purposes. Examples are given on the effects of different housing and management systems on rabbit welfare, as well as examples of the ethological, physiological and productive indicators used to evaluate these effects. Transportation and, more generally, preslaughter phases including catching, fasting and lairage at the abattoir are considered major stressors for farmed rabbits and might have deleterious effects on health, well-being, performance, and finally, product quality. A general statement of the recent scientific studies considering the effects of pre-slaughter factors on physiological and productive measurements are reported. Finally, some indications in order to improve rabbit welfare, already present at the European level, are also outlined, together with the European Food Safety Authority opinions.
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