Husbandry factors and health conditions influencing the productivity of French rabbit farms

A. Huneau-Salaün, S. Bougeard, L. Balaine, F. Eono, S. Le Bouquin, C. Chauvin

Abstract

In 2009 productivity data from 95 kindling to finishing rabbit farms in France were analysed to identify rearing factors and health conditions that influenced their productivity. Farm productivity, expressed on a yearly basis, was described with 4 productivity indices: doe fertility and prolificacy, viability of young rabbits in the nest and mortality during the fattening period. The productivity data were obtained with the technical support of the farm and expressed in a standardised way. The average numerical productivity observed in the sample of farms was 50.9 rabbits produced per doe and per year (CI95% [49.6-52.2]). The husbandry management and health conditions were described based on a questionnaire filled out during an interview with the farmer and a farm visit. Explanatory data were organised into meaningful blocks relative to biosecurity measures, del using a Partiamaternity management, the sanitary context and the farm structure. The relationship between the 4 thematic blocks and the productivity indices was studied in a single mol Least Squares (PLS) regression model. Fertility (81.0%, CI95% [80.0-82.0]) and viability of young at nest (85.1%, CI95% [85.0-85.3] and mortality rate during fattening: 7.2%, CI95% [6.4-7.9]) were significantly associated with common factors relative to maternity management and the health context whereas prolificacy (9.7 live kits per parturition, CI95% [9.5-9.9]) was mostly influenced by a specific set of variables pertaining to those 2 blocks. Farm structure and biosecurity measures had a limited impact on fertility and on kit viability before weaning. The health conditions of the doe herd and the fattening rabbits were found to be significantly associated with several productivity indexes, but their impacts on productivity were as high as the impact of the other blocks. Genetic strain of the females, doe replacement strategy and nursing and weaning practices appeared to significantly influence reproductive performance, viability of kits before weaning and mortality rate during the fattening period. Maternity management therefore seemed to be the key point in rabbit unit management that governed the numerical productivity of the farm.


Keywords

rabbit; productivity; health; husbandry; reproduction

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