Prevalence of post mortem lesions recorded in the largest Italian rabbit slaughterhouse over a fifteen-years period (2003-2017)
The present research was aimed at evaluating the prevalence of gross lesions in condemned rabbit carcasses by analysing data recorded in a large Italian slaughterhouse. From 2003 until 2017, a total of 103 080 019 rabbits were processed: 101 722 673 were finishing rabbits and 1 357 346 were breeding females. A total of 742 397 carcasses were condemned due to lesions. Condemned carcasses from young rabbits (n=545 070) evidenced: 33.6% enteritis, 31.5% subcutaneous abscesses, 29.7% cachexia and 3.84% lung disease. Among breeding rabbits (n=197 327) there were 38.9% cachexia, followed by 35.8% uterine pathologies (breeding females), 14.9% subcutaneous abscesses, 5.42% ulcerative pododermatitis, 2.61% chronic nephritis and 2.47% lung disease. Regarding season-related lesions, for growing rabbits the total prevalence of lesions and diseases was the highest in winter (enteritis increased in winter, but subcutaneous abscesses were higher in summer). Rabbit does showed the highest prevalence of subcutaneous abscesses in summer and ulcerative pododermatitis in winter. From 2003 to 2017, the overall number of condemned carcasses doubled in both categories, with a sharp increase from 2012 till 2017. The prevalence of lesions among slaughtered rabbits differed between growing and breeding categories, which was attributable to different farming conditions, physiological status and slaughter age. Based on the above-mentioned findings, better management strategies at different stages of the rabbit production chain seem to be a necessary way to manage resulting waste and address possible economic concerns.
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