Effect of light intensities on reproductive performance, nursing behaviour and preference of rabbit does

Zs. Matics, Zs. Szendrő, I. Radnai, R. Kasza, Zs. Gerencsér

Abstract

The aim of the experiment was to compare the reproductive performance and nursing behaviour of rabbit does reared under 2 different light intensities and observe the preference of does among cages with different light intensities. Female rabbits were randomly housed in 2 identical rooms, under the same housing conditions in wire-net cages. The 2 rooms only differed in the light intensity; group L: 150-200 lux (n=54 does, 230 inseminations), group D: 10-20 lux (n=54 does, 232 inseminations). Reproduction data from the first 5 consecutive reproductive cycles were evaluated. Nursing behaviour of the does (n = 24) was observed at the 2nd or 4th lactation. The preference of does (n=8) among 4 cages with different light intensities (10, 35, 75 or 155 lux)  as examined. There were 6-7% difference between the 2 groups in the number of kits born in total and those born alive (born total: 11.25 vs. 10.59 kits, P<0.1; liveborn: 10.75 vs. 10.00 kits, P<0.05; in groups L and D, respectively). Suckling mortality was nearly 2% higher in group D (L: 8.1, D: 10.0%; P<0.1), and in consequence the litter size of this group at 35 d of age was lower than that of the L rabbits (L: 8.75, D: 8.45 kits; P<0.05). The light intensity did not affect litter and individual weights at 35 d of age. The average numbers of daily nursing events (L: 1.23/d, D: 1.32/d), the length (L: 208±49, D: 213±43 s) and the daily distribution of nursing events were not affected by high light intensity. During the light period of the day, the darkest cage (10 lux) was the most preferred by the does (44.0, 18.6, 17.9 and 19.5% in 10, 35, 75 and 155 lux cages, respectively; P<0.001). The lower light intensity had no unambiguously unfavourable effect on the reproductive performance and nursing behaviour of the does. Based on the preference test, a lower light intensity may be advantageous from the point of view of animal welfare.

Keywords

rabbit; light intensity; reproductive performance; nursing behaviour; preference test

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References

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