Carcass traits and meat quality of growing rabbits in pens with and without different multilevel platforms

M. Martino, S. Mattioli, P. Farkas, Zs. Szendrő, A. Dal Bosco, S. Ruggeri, Zs. Matics, C. Castellini, Zs. Gerencsér


The aim of this trial was to determine the effect of the presence of wire or plastic mesh elevated platforms on carcass traits and meat quality characteristics, with particular attention to the oxidative status of growing rabbits. A total of 174 five-week old rabbits were randomly divided into 3 groups with 2 replications (6 pens; 29 rabbits/pen): pens without platforms (NoP) with a stocking density of 16 rabbits/m2 and pens with wire-mesh platforms (WP) or plastic-mesh platforms (PP) that were placed on 2 levels, with a stocking density of 16 rabbits/m2 on the floor or 9.14 rabbits/m2 when the platform were included. At 84 d rabbits were slaughtered. The slaughter traits and Longissimus lumborum (LL) physical and chemical compositition were not affected by treatments. Rabbits from the PP group showed the highest retinol and γ-tocotrienol content on LL muscle, whereas the NoP ones showed a higher α-tocotrienol and α-tocopherol level. The absence of platforms led to decreased (P<0.001) thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances values and induced an improvement in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Levels of linoleic, linolenic and docosahexaenoic acids were equal to those of the WP group (23.45, 3.75, 0.64% in NoP and 22.6, 4.14, 0.53% in WP, respectively) but higher than in PP rabbits (20.86, 3.05, 0.45%, respectively). It can be concluded that the pens with elevated platforms provide greater possibilities for movement, which is beneficial from the viewpoint of animal welfare. However, this greater activity influences the oxidative status of the meat, decreasing the antioxidant content and worsening the lipid oxidation of rabbit meat.


platform; growing rabbit; carcass traits; meat quality

Full Text:



AOAC. 1995. Official Methods of Analysis. 15th ed. Association of Official Analytical Chemists. Washington, DC. USA.

Beja P., Pais M., Palma L. 2007. Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus habitats in Mediterranean scrubland: the role of scrub structure and composition. Wildlife Biol., 13: 28-37. doi:10.2981/0909-6396(2007)13[28:ROCHIM]2.0.CO;2

Blasco A., Ouhayoun J. 1996. Harmonization of criteria and terminology in rabbit meat research. Revised proposal. World Rabbit Sci., 4: 93-99.

CIE. Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage. 1976. Official Recommendations on Uniform Colour Spaces, Colour Differences Equations and Metric Colour Terms. Supplement n. 2, CIE Publication n. 15. Colorimetry. Paris, France.

Combes S., Postollec G., Cauquil L., Gidenne T. 2010. Influence of cage or pen housing on carcass traits and meat quality of rabbit. Animal, 4: 295-302. doi:10.1017/S1751731109991030

Dal Bosco A., Castellini C., Mugnai C. 2002. Rearing rabbits on a wire net floor or straw litter: behaviour, growth and meat qualitative traits. Livest. Prod. Sci., 75: 149-156. doi:10.1016/S0301-6226(01)00307-4

Dal Bosco A., Szendrő Zs., Matics Zs., Castellini C., Ruggeri S., Szendrő K., Gerencsér Zs. 2015. Effect of floor type on carcass and meat quality of pen raised growing rabbits. World Rabbit Sci., 23: 19-26. doi:10.4995/wrs.2015.3270

Dalle Zotte A., Princz Z., Metzger Sz., Szabó A., Radnai I., Biró-Németh E., Orova Z., Szendrő Zs. 2009. Response of fattening rabbits reared under different housing conditions. 2. Carcass and meat quality. Livest. Sci., 122: 39-47. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2008.07.021

de Jong I., Reimert H., Rommers J. 2008. Effect of floor type on footpad injuries in does: a pilot study. In Proc.: 9th World Rabbit Congress, June 10-13, 2008, Verona, Italy, 1171-1175.

EFSA (European Food and Safety Authority). 2005. Scientific Report. The Impact of the Current Housing and Husbandry Systems on the Health and Welfare of Farmed Domestic Rabbit. EFSA-Q-2004-023, pp. 1-137 (Annex to EFSA J. 267, 1-31).

Fang Y.Z., Yang S., Wu G. 2002. Free radicals, antioxidants, and nutrition. Nutrition, 18: 872-879. doi:10.1016/S0899-9007(02)00916-4

Folch J., Lees M., Sloane-Stanley H. 1957. A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipids from animal tissue. J. Biol. Chem., 226: 497-509.

Gerencsér Zs., Szendrő K., Szendrő Zs., Odermatt M., Radnai I., Nagy I., Dal Bosco A., Matics Zs. 2014. Effect of floor type on behaviour and productive performance of growing rabbits. Livest. Sci., 165: 114-119. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2014.04.022

Gondret F., Hernandez P., Rémignon H., Combes S. 2009. Skeletal muscle adaptations and biomechanical properties of tendons in response to jump exercise in rabbits. J. Anim. Sci., 87: 544-553. doi:10.2527/jas.2008-1286

Hewavitharana A.K., Lanari M.C., Becu C. 2004. Simultaneous determination of vitamin E homologs in chicken meat by liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection. J. Chromat., 1025: 313-317. doi:10.1016/j.chroma.2003.10.052

Jekkel G., Milisits G., Biróné Németh E., Radnai I., Matics Zs., Princz Z., Orova Z., Gerencsér Zs., Szendrő Zs. 2006. Effect of floor type and stocking density on the slaughter value of growing rabbits. In Proc.: 18th Hungarian Conference on Rabbit Production, Kaposvár, Hungary, pp. 189-194.

Ke P.J., Ackman R.G., Linke B.H., Nash D.M. 1977. Differential lipid oxidation products in various parts of frozen mackerel. J. Food Technol., 12: 37-47.


Lang C., Hoy S. 2011. Investigations on the use of an elevated platform in group cages by growing rabbits. World Rabbit Sci., 19: 95-101. doi:10.4995/wrs.2011.800

Lazzaroni C., Biagini D., Lussiana C. 2009. Fatty acid composition of meat and perirenal fat in rabbits from two different rearing systems. Meat Sci., 83: 135-139. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2009.04.011

Lombardini L., Fernández N., Moreno S. 2007. Habitat use and spatial behaviour in the European rabbit in three Mediterranean environments. Basic Appl. Ecol., 8: 453-463. doi:10.1016/j.baae.2006.09.004

Lombardini L., Fernández N., Moreno S., Villafuerte R. 2003. Habitat-related differences in rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) abundance, distribution and activity. J. Mammal., 84: 26-36. doi:10.1644/1545-1542(2003)084%3C0026:HRDIRO%3E2.0.CO;2

Matics Zs., Nagy I., Gerencsér Zs ., Radnai I., Gyovai P., Donkó T., Dalle Zotte A., Curik I., Szendrő Zs. 2014a. Pannon Breeding Program in rabbit at Kaposvár University. World Rabbit Sci., 22: 287-300. doi:10.4995/wrs.2014.1511

Matics Zs., Szendrő Zs., Odermatt M., Gerencsér Zs., Nagy I., Radnai I., Dalle Zotte A. 2014b. Effect of housing conditions on production, carcass and meat quality traits of growing rabbits. Meat Sci., 96: 41-46. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.07.001

Matics Zs., Szendrő Zs., Radnai I., Biró-Németh E., Gyovai M. 2003. Examination of free choice of rabbits among different cage-floors. Agric. Consp. Scient., 68: 265-269.

Niki E. 2010. Assessment of antioxidant capacity in vitro and in vivo. Free Radical Bio. Med., 49: 503-515. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2010.04.016

Palmquist D.L. 2009. Omega-3 fatty acids in metabolism, health, and nutrition and for modified animal product foods. Prof. Anim. Sci., 25: 207-249.


Palomeras F. 2003. Warren building by European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in relation to cover availability in a sandy area. J. Zool., 259: 63-67. doi:10.1017/S0952836902002960

Postollec G., Boilletot E., Maurice R., Michel V. 2008. The effect of pen size and an enrichment structure (elevated platform) on the performances and the behaviour of fattening rabbits. Anim. Welfare, 17: 53-59.

Princz Z., Dalle Zotte A., Metzger Sz., Radnai I., Biró-Németh E., Orova Z., Szendrő Zs. 2009. Response of fattening rabbits reared under different housing conditions. Live performance and health status. Livest. Sci., 121: 86-91. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2008.05.018

Rommers, J., de Jong, I. 2011. Technical Note: Plastic mats prevent footpad injuries in rabbit does. World Rabbit Sci., 19: 233-237. doi:10.4995/wrs.2011.868

SAS/STAT. 2008. User’s Guide, Version 6, Cary NC.

Szendrő Zs., Dalle Zotte A. 2011. Effect of housing conditions on production and behaviour of growing meat rabbits: A review. Livest. Sci., 137: 296-303. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2010.11.012

Szendrő Zs., McNitt J.I. 2012. Housing of rabbit does: group and individual systems: A review. Livest. Sci., 150: 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2012.09.017

Trocino A., Xiccato G., Queaque P.I., Sartori A. 2004. Group housing of growing rabbits: Effect of stocking density and cage floor on performance, welfare, and meat quality. In Proc.: 8th World Rabbit Congress, September 7-10, 2004, Puebla City, Mexico, 1277-1281.

Trocino A., Carraro L., Fragkiadakis M., Xiccato G. 2005. Como la densidad y el tipo de suelo influyen en los rendimientos productivos y el bienestar de conejos de engorde en jaulas colectivas. In Proc.: 31rd Symposium de Cunicultura ASESCU, Lorca, Spain, pp. 45-55.

Trocino A., Xiccato G. 2006. Animal welfare in reared rabbits: A review with emphasis on housing systems. World Rabbit Sci., 14: 77-93. doi:10.4995/wrs.2006.553

Verga M., Luzi F., Carenzi C. 2007. Effects of husbandry and management systems on physiology and behaviour of farmed and laboratory rabbits. Horm. Behav., 52: 122-129. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2007.03.024

Xiccato G., Trocino A., Majolini D., Tazzoli M., Zuffellato A. 2013. Housing of growing rabbits in individual, bicellular and collective cages: growth performance, carcass traits and meat quality. Animal, 7: 627-632. doi:10.1017/S175173111200198X

Abstract Views

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


Cited-By (articles included in Crossref)

This journal is a Crossref Cited-by Linking member. This list shows the references that citing the article automatically, if there are. For more information about the system please visit Crossref site

1. Rabbit meat production and consumption: State of knowledge and future perspectives
Marco Cullere, Antonella Dalle Zotte
Meat Science  vol: 143  first page: 137  year: 2018  
doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2018.04.029


 Universitat Politècnica de València


Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)


e-ISSN: 1989-8886     ISSN: 1257-5011