Technical Note: Design of a large variable temperature chamber for heat stress studies in rabbits.

Fernando-Juan García-Diego, Juan José Pascual, Francisco Marco


One of the major constraint factors for rabbit production consists of the environmental conditions and especially high temperatures that negatively affect reproduction and growth performance.  For this reason, several studies have addressed the effects of heat stress and possible solutions to alleviate its impact on rabbit performance.  This article describes the design and operating features of a large temperature chamber (13×4.7×3.1 m) configured to house 42 rabbits.  The probes consisted of temperature sensor model DS2438 and humidity sensor model HIH-5031.  The system was controlled by an Arduino platform programmed by its Integrated Development Environment (IDE) software.  The system takes a decision every minute: it connects the heating if the temperature is lower than programmed and connects exhaust fans if the temperature is over the programmed setting.  To renew the indoor air, every 5 min the system switches off the heating and switches on the exhaust fans for 15 sec.  Two experiments (with and without animals) were carried out to test the temperature control accuracy.  Firstly, without animals, two tests were performed: (i) adjusting the temperature of the climatic chamber to the control house temperature plus 10ºC and (ii) based on daily minimum (32ºC) and maximum (37ºC) temperatures.  Secondly, with animals, does were maintained (i) between a daily minimum (32ºC) and maximum (37ºC) for 48 h and (ii) between a daily minimum (25ºC) and maximum (35ºC) temperatures for 105 d.  Mortality rates were noted in both tests.  The results of comparing the measured temperature deviation from programmed temperature reported a coefficient of determination of 0.9850 and 0.9947, for plus 10ºC and 32-37ºC curves, respectively.  In the animal tests, the determination coefficients were 0.9926 and 0.9928 for programmed curve in the range of 32 to 37ºC and 0.9859, 0.9900 and 0.9901 for programmed curve in the range of 25 to 35ºC.  Survival of females in the temperature chamber was as expected for reproductive rabbit does: 100 and 82% in the 2 and 105 d trials, respectively.  Results indicate that the chamber provided precise temperature control for the development of heat stress studies in rabbits.


Heat stress; Rabbit does; Climatic chamber

Full Text:



Amici A., Canganella F., Bevilacqua L. 1998. Effects of high ambient temperatures in rabbits: metabolic changes, caecal fermentation and bacterial flora. World Rabbit Sci., 6: 319324.

Amici A., Franci O., Mastroiacono P., Merendino N., Nardini M., Tomassi G. 2000. Short term acute heat stress in rabbits: Functional, metabolic and immunological effects. World Rabbit Sci., 8: 11-16.

Cervera C., Blas E., Fernández Carmona J. 1997. Growth of rabbits under different environmental temperatures using high fat diets. World Rabbit Sci., 5: 71-75.

Chiericato GM., Bailoni L., Rizzi C. 1992. The effect of environmental temperature on the performance of growing rabbits. J. Appl. Rabbit Res., 15: 723-731.

Fernández-Carmona J., Cervera C., Sabater C., Blas E. 1995. Effect of diet composition on the production of rabbit breeding does housed in a traditional building and at 30°C. Anim. Feed Sci. Tech., 52: 289-297.

Fernández-Carmona J., Alqedra I., Cervera C., Moya J., Pascual J.J. 2003. Effect of lucerne-based diets on performance of reproductive rabbit does at two temperatures. Anim. Sci., 76: 283-295.

Fernández-Carmona J., Cervera C. 2010. Nutrition and climatic environment. In: de Blas C. and Wiseman J. (ed). Nutrition of the rabbit. 2nd Ed. CABI International, Wallington, UK, 267-284.

García-Diego F.J., Zarzo M. 2010. Microclimate monitoring by multivariate statistical control: The renaissance frescoes of the Cathedral of Valencia (Spain). J. Cult. Herit., 11: 339344. doi: 10.1016/j.culher.2009.06.002

Lebas F., Ouhayoun J. 1987. Incidence du niveau protéique de l’aliment, du milieu et de la saison sur la croissance et les qualités boucheres du lapin. Ann. Zootech., 36: 421-432. doi: 10.1051/animres:19870406

Lefcourt AM., Buell B., Tasch U. 2001. Large environmental chamber: Design and operating characteristics. Appl. Eng. Agric. 17: 691-701.

Maertens L., de Groote G. 1990. Comparison of feed intake and milk yield of does under normal and high ambient temperature. J. Appl. Rabbit Res., 13: 159-162.

Marai IFM., Habeeb AAM., Gad AE. 2002. Rabbits´ productive, reproductive and physiological performance traits as affected by heat stress: a review. Livest. Prod. Sci., 78: 71-90. doi: 10.1016/S0301-6226(02)00091-X

Matheron G., Martial JP. 1981. Growth and feed consumption of rabbit does from weaning to 4 months of age in different ambient temperature and humidities. Zootechniques of Physiologiques. ENSA. Rennes.

Maxim Integrated Products. APPLICATION NOTE 148: Guidelines for Reliable Long Line 1 Wire® Networks 2008,

Oseni SO., Ajayi BA. 2010. Descriptive characterization of a Nigerian heterogeneous rabbit population - factors affecting litter traits. World Rabbit Sci., 18: 111-116. doi: 10.4995/ WRS.2010.18.14

Pascual JJ., Cervera C. 2010. Why produce rabbit? In Proc.: 4° Congreso de Cunicultura de las Américas. American Branch of the World Rabbit Science Association, 22-24 September 2010, Córdoba, Argentina, 1-10.

Pascual JJ., García C., Martínez E., Mocé E., Vicente J.S. 2004. Rearing management of rabbit males selected by high growth rate: the effect of diet and season on semen characteristics. Reprod. Nutr. Dev., 44: 49-63. doi: 10.1051/rnd:2004016

Powell JM., Cusick PR., Misselbrook TH., Holmes BJ. 2007. Design and calibration of chambers for measuring ammonia emissions from tie-stall dairy barns. Trans. ASAE. 50: 10451051.

Rosell J.M., de la Fuente L.F. 2009. Culing and mortality in breeding rabbits. Prev. Vet. Med., 88: 120-127. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2008.08.003

Rosell J.M., de la Fuente L.F., Badiola J.I., Fernández de Luco D., Casal J., Saco M. 2009. Study of urgent visits to commercial rabbit farms in Spain and Portugal during 1997-2007. World Rabbit Sci., 17: 127-136.

Sánchez J.P., Oeiró R., Torres C., Baselga M. 2005. Estudio de los factores que determinan la longevidad en una población de conejo de carne. In Proc: XXX Symposium de Cuniucltura ASESCU, 18-20 May 2005.Valladolid, Spain. 143-148.

Yassein S.A., Mahmoud K.Gh.M., Maghraby N., Ezzo O.H. 2008. Hot climate effects and their amelioration on some productive and reproductive traits in rabbit does. World Rabbit Sci., 16: 173-181.

Zeferino CP., Moura ASAMT., Fernandes S., Kanayama JS., Scapinello C., Sartori JR. 2011. Genetic group×ambient temperature interaction effects on physiological responses and growth performance of rabbits. Livest. Sci., 140: 177183. doi: 10.1016/j.livsci.2011.03.027.

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. Digestive efficiency in rabbit does according to environment and genetic type
Davi Savietto, Enrique Blas, Concha Cervera, Manuel Baselga, Nicolas C. Friggens, Torben Larsen, Juan José Pascual
World Rabbit Science  vol: 20  issue: 3  year: 2012  
doi: 10.4995/wrs.2012.1152


 Universitat Politècnica de València


Official journal of the World Rabbit Science Association (WRSA)


e-ISSN: 1989-8886     ISSN: 1257-5011