The effect of transport time, season and position on the truck on stress response in rabbits
Keywords:rabbit, transport, season, animal welfare, blood samples
The present study analyzed the effect of transport time, season and position on the truck on physiological stress response of commercial rabbits in Aragón (Spain). A total of 156 animals were sampled in a 2×2×3 factorial design testing two transport times: short, 1 hour (1hT) and long, 7 hours (7hT), in two different seasons: hot, during summer (HT) and cold during winter (CT), and three different positions on the truck: upper, middle or lower decks in multi-floor cages on rolling stands (MFRS-top, MFRS-middle and MFRS-bottom). Three replicates were performed per treatment. Blood samples were taken at sticking during slaughter to compare hematocrite, corticosterone, glucose, lactate and Creatine Kinase (CK) levels as well as the ultimate pH of the carcass (pH24). Corticosterone and CK levels were highest in 1hT rabbits. With respect to season, colder temperatures increased corticosterone, while warmer temperatures increased CK (P<0.001). Regarding position on the truck, MFRS-middle and bottom rabbits had higher levels of glucose, corticosterone and CK. The pH24 values were within normal ranges for all treatments but slightly higher for animals transported in winter. In general, transport time and season were significant stressors for commercial rabbits, due to the effects on their physiological states. Position on the truck seems to have an effect on stress response to transport in rabbits. However, pH24, which is considered one of the main parameters of welfare measurements, was not affected by transport time or position on the truck.
This journal is licensed under a "Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)".