Group Housing and Enrichment Cagfs for Breeding, Fattening and Laboratory Rabbits

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Abstract:

The commercial breeding of rabbits in individual cages presents a number of problems with respect to animal protection legislation. These problems are first presented in an overview of the subject. Starting from the behaviour shown by domestic rabbits in a richly structured near-to-nature enclosure, a new concept for keeping breeding groups is presented. In the housing system for breeding groups (4-5 does, 1 buck, plus young until weaned) which is then developed, the main characteristics of near-to-nature surroundings required for normal behaviour are replaced by manageable artificial substitutes. The individual components of the housing system and the spatial arrangements are described and discussed. Ethological examination of group breeding has shown that this housing system is both more suitable to the requirements of the rabbits themselves and more in the interest of breeders than the present commercial cage system. However, since cages will certainly remain the most important means of housing laboratory and fattening rabbits in the medium term, the ethological requirements for keeping domestic rabbits in cages will be also be discussed.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; BEHAVIOUR; BREEDING GROUPS; ENRICHMENT HOUSING; RABBITS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 1992

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