Investigations on the use of an elevated platform in group cages by growing rabbits
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.
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1. Growth performance, carcass traits, behaviour and welfare of New Zealand White rabbits housed in different enriched cages
Hesham Mohammed, Mohammed Nasr
Animal Production Science vol: 57 issue: 8 first page: 1759 year: 2017
Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)
e-ISSN: 1989-8886 ISSN: 1257-5011 https://doi.org/10.4995/wrs