Traditional rabbitries on the island of Crete in Greece: general outlook
Greek people consume a limited amount of rabbit meat, with the exception of the island of Crete. In Crete rabbit meat is a traditional dish. A large number of farmer or shepherding families grow rabbits. This study focuses on the traditional rabbitries that serve mainly as a source of meat for the needs of the family, thus become good examples of farming priorities of low-income families. The study focused on rabbitries located at the villages of Krousonas, Sarchos, Korfes and Loutraki in the county of lraklion, Crete. A total of 70 traditional rabbitries were observed for the duration of four months (July to October 2000). The facilities of the rabbitries were of low cost materials, mostly homemade, with the exception of 15 rabbitries, which used commercial cages. The diet of the rabbits was mainly from garden plants supplemented with grains or other kinds of feed materials, such as leftover dry bread. Some characteristics of the production-system were: Maximum total rabbits number/farm 22.2±13.0 (n=70); Reproductive does number/farm 3.3±1.3 (n=70); Parturition number/year/doe 7.7±0.8 (n=230); Litter size in birth 8.0± 2.6 (n=105); Litter size in weaning 7.2±2.4 (n=97); Litter size in slaughter 6.5±2.4 (n=95); Slaughter age of fattening (months) 2.8± 0.9 (n=84); Body weight at slaughter 1.7±0.4 (n=84); In respect to health problems, there were not any serious pathological conditions observed other than some cases with ear mange lesions (18.7% in reproductive does, 28.6% in reproductive bucks, 15.2% in fryer rabbits) and a small percentage (8%) of slaughtered rabbits were observed with liver abnormalities believed to be due to coccidial infection. At the end of the paper, the different medications in use in the observed farms are refereed. The recommendation and the application mode of the used medications were entirely empiric, thus without a prescription from a veterinarian. In 39 farms no medication was used.
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