Behaviour of growing rabbits under various housing conditions

Zoltán Princz, Antonella Dalle Zotte, István Radnai, Edit Bíró-Németh, Zsolt Matics, Zsolt Gerencsér, István Nagy, Z. Szendrő

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The aim of this research was to assess the effects of environmental variables (group size, stocking density, floor type, environmental enrichment) on behaviour - as a welfare indicator - of growing rabbits. Two experiments were carried out with Pannon White rabbits. In experiment 1, 5-week-old rabbits (n = 112) were placed in cage blocks (2 m2) with a stocking density of 16 or 12 rabbits/m2. The cages (0.5 m2) differed in the floor type (wire or plastic net) and in the presence or absence of gnawing sticks (white locust). The animals could move freely among the four cages through swing doors. Infrared video recording was performed once a week, the number of rabbits in each cage was counted every half an hour (48 times/day) during the 24 h video recording. Between ages 5 and 11 weeks the rabbits showed a preference towards the plastic net floor (16 rabbits/m2, 62.5%; 12 rabbits/m2, 76.5%; P <0.001). Gnawing stick application significantly affected cage preference: 54.1% (16 rabbits/m2) or 53.1% (12 rabbits/m2) of the rabbits choose the enriched cages (P <0.001). In experiment 2, the 5-week-old rabbits were placed either in cages (2 rabbits/0.12 m2, n = 72) or pens (13 rabbits/0.86 m2, n = 104) with 16 rabbits/m2. The floor types were wire or plastic net, with the presence or absence of gnawing sticks on the walls. Video recordings were made at 6.5 and 10.5 weeks of age between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and between 11:00 p.m. and 05:00 a.m. Compared to cages, the rabbits housed in pens spent less time with resting (58% versus 67%) and more time with locomotion (6.7% versus 3.8%) but the frequency of aggressive behaviour (measured by the number of ear lesions) was also higher (0.14% versus 0.01%). In pens the application of gnawing sticks significantly decreased the frequency of ear injuries (0.05% versus 0.22%). The floor type did not affect any behavioural pattern (eating, drinking, movement, resting, comfort, social, investigatory) significantly. The main results showed that growing rabbits have a preference for plastic net floor and cages provided with gnawing sticks. The resting, locomotive and aggressive behaviour was modified by the housing system and the presence of gnawing sticks decreased the frequency of physical injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-356
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume111
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

Fingerprint

rabbits
Rabbits
cages
Video Recording
Plastics
plastics
wire
stocking rate
Ear
aggression
ears
environmental enrichment
Grasshoppers
Penicillin G
Wounds and Injuries
locusts
Locomotion
drinking
eating habits
group size

Keywords

  • Behaviour
  • Floor type
  • Gnawing stick
  • Group size
  • Rabbit
  • Stocking density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)

Cite this

Princz, Z., Dalle Zotte, A., Radnai, I., Bíró-Németh, E., Matics, Z., Gerencsér, Z., ... Szendrő, Z. (2008). Behaviour of growing rabbits under various housing conditions. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 111(3-4), 342-356. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2007.06.013

Behaviour of growing rabbits under various housing conditions. / Princz, Zoltán; Dalle Zotte, Antonella; Radnai, István; Bíró-Németh, Edit; Matics, Zsolt; Gerencsér, Zsolt; Nagy, István; Szendrő, Z.

In: Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 111, No. 3-4, 06.2008, p. 342-356.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Princz, Z, Dalle Zotte, A, Radnai, I, Bíró-Németh, E, Matics, Z, Gerencsér, Z, Nagy, I & Szendrő, Z 2008, 'Behaviour of growing rabbits under various housing conditions', Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 111, no. 3-4, pp. 342-356. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2007.06.013
Princz Z, Dalle Zotte A, Radnai I, Bíró-Németh E, Matics Z, Gerencsér Z et al. Behaviour of growing rabbits under various housing conditions. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2008 Jun;111(3-4):342-356. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2007.06.013
Princz, Zoltán ; Dalle Zotte, Antonella ; Radnai, István ; Bíró-Németh, Edit ; Matics, Zsolt ; Gerencsér, Zsolt ; Nagy, István ; Szendrő, Z. / Behaviour of growing rabbits under various housing conditions. In: Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2008 ; Vol. 111, No. 3-4. pp. 342-356.
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