Investigations on the use of an elevated platform in group cages by growing rabbits

Caroline Lang, Steffen Hoy

Abstract

The investigation was carried out with altogether 511 caged growing rabbits (ZIKA) in four rounds with a duration of 8 weeks each. Every second cage was equipped with an elevated platform. Water and molassed-crude-fibre-blocks were fed ad libitum during the whole fattening period. Pellets were given additionally by a hopper during the last two weeks. In 5-min-intervals the number of rabbits “staying on the platform”, “staying under the platform” and “staying in front of the platform” – including  the behavioural pattern “staying at the feeder” was infrared video-recorded and observed at three consecutive days (at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the fattening period). The behavioural patterns were continuously analysed for 72 h with the aid of “The Observer®” programme (Noldus, NL) and summarised in hour-values (24 h a day, thrice per fattening period for each group). Rabbits showed a circadian rhythm in the use of the elevated platform. During the night, up to 70 % of the rabbits stayed on the elevated platform, whereas during daytime (lighting period) at most 40 % of the rabbits stayed under the platform. During the fattening period, the percentage of rabbits staying on the elevated platform was decreasing. The use of the elevated platform had no significant influence on health and performance of the rabbits (daily weight gain, mortality rate, morbidity rate and body lesion score). So, it can be concluded that the elevated platform is an adequate environmental enrichment for growing rabbits in group cages.

 


Keywords

growing rabbits; elevated platform; circadian rhythm

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References

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 Universitat Politècnica de València

 

Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)

 

e-ISSN: 1989-8886     ISSN: 1257-5011   https://doi.org/10.4995/wrs