Wooden sticks as environmental enrichment: effect on fattening and carcass traits of individually housed growing rabbits
Keywords:rabbits, gnawing sticks, environmental enrichment, fattening traits, carcass traits, meat quality
The aim of our study was to examine the influence of wooden sticks for gnawing as environmental enrichment on fattening, carcass and meat quality traits of growing rabbits. Forty-eight rabbits of SIKA sire line (Slovenian line for meat production) of both sexes were housed individually in wire-mesh cages equipped only with a feeder and a nipple drinker. Half of the cages were enriched with wooden sticks of Norway spruce (Picea abies). That was the experimental group whereas the other half was the control group. Animals had free access to feed and water, daily duration of lighting was 12 h. The experiment lasted from 44th to 103rd d of age. The consumption of wood was less than 0.5 % of the total feed intake. Results indicate that fattening and carcass traits, as well as meat quality were not influenced by environmental enrichment, although in the experimental group a smaller large intestine percentage (âˆ’0.21±0.13 %; [Pr(|difference|>0)=0.94]) was observed. Additionally rabbits in experimental group had redder meat values [Pr(|difference|>0)=0.92]. However, given that wooden sticks had no negative impact on rabbits performance, sticks made of Norway spruce can still be treated as appropriate environmental enrichment for growing rabbits.
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