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Animals 2013, 3(2), 318-326;

Assessing Ulcerative Pododermatitis of Breeding Rabbits

Cunivet Service, P.O. Box 518, 43080 Tarragona, Spain
Departamento de Producción Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Avda. Profesor Pedro Cármenes s/n, Universidad de León, 24071 León, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 February 2013 / Revised: 4 April 2013 / Accepted: 12 April 2013 / Published: 17 April 2013
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Simple Summary

Sore hocks are a health and welfare problem in rabbits housed in cages with mesh floors. Footrests are used to prevent them. They occupy part of the mesh floor of the cage but allow droppings to fall and also protect the rabbit’s feet. In this study we evaluated the use of footrests on 664 commercial farms visited in Spain and Portugal, and the rates of sick animals during 2001–2012; the attention given by producers to animal care was evident as 28% of farms with footrests in 2001 increased to 75% in 2012.


Rabbits in conventional farms are housed in wire net cages with mesh floors to separate them from droppings. In time, lacerations appear on the legs of adult rabbits causing ulcerative pododermatitis or sore hocks, a severe health and welfare problem. Pain causes behavioral changes; productivity is reduced and the most seriously affected animals die or are culled. In this study we evaluated the attention producers have given to this problem and its prevention by installing footrests in cages. We made 2,331 visits to 664 commercial farms in Spain and Portugal between 2001 and 2012, and evaluated morbidity by examining 105,009 females and 10,722 males. The study highlights that the rate of farms with footrests increased from 27.8% in 2001 to 75.2% in 2012. Prevalence of sore hocks in does in 2001 was 11.4%, decreasing to 6.3% in 2012; prevention of ulcerative pododermatitis was associated (P < 0.001) with the presence of footrests. Overall, prevalence was 4.87 ± 0.26 on farms with footrests and 13.71 ± 0.32 without (P < 0.01). View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; disease prevention; footrest; rabbit; sore hocks; ulcerative pododermatitis animal welfare; disease prevention; footrest; rabbit; sore hocks; ulcerative pododermatitis

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rosell, J.M.; de la Fuente, L.F. Assessing Ulcerative Pododermatitis of Breeding Rabbits. Animals 2013, 3, 318-326.

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