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Article

Mirrors Can Affect Growth Rate, Blood Profile, Carcass and Meat Traits and Caecal Microbial Activity of Rabbits Reared in a “Small Group” Free-Range System

1
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production, University of Napoli Federico II, Via F. Delpino 1, 80137 Naples, Italy
2
Department of Agri-Food Production and Environmental Sciences-Section of Animal Sciences, University of Firenze, Via delle Cascine 5, 50144 Florence, Italy
3
Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA
4
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Napoli Federico II, Via Università 133, 80055 Portici, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 639; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090639
Received: 24 July 2019 / Revised: 27 August 2019 / Accepted: 29 August 2019 / Published: 1 September 2019
The rabbit farming sector is going through a difficult period. The reduction in the consumption of rabbit meat and the increased attention paid by consumers to the welfare of farmed animals require the adoption of farming methods that are as “natural” as possible and at the same time may ensure the maintenance of good growth performance. In this sense, free-range breeding on the ground and in colonies allows the rabbits to express more natural behaviour, but it also presents some negative aspects such as decreased growth performance, higher energy expenditure of subjects due to a higher locomotion activity, and the need for a larger rearing space. Mirrors can represent a valid solution by improving the rabbits welfare and at the same time ensuring good growth performance and carcass quality traits.
The aim of this work was to propose a model of free-range raising for rabbit able to maximize the animal welfare and at the same time the productive performances through the use of mirrors. A total of 81 rabbits were allocated into free-range areas and divided into three groups (nine replicates per group): in the first group (face to face, F2F), the rabbits of each replicate could see each other. In the second group (blind) each replicate was isolated from the others; in the third group (mirrors), the replicates were divided as for the Blind group but two mirrors were placed in a corner of the perimeter. The blind group rabbits showed the lowest final weight (p < 0.05), while rabbits from the mirrors groups showed the best FCR and net dressing out values. The blind group showed the highest production of total short chain fatty acids, acetate (p < 0.05) and propionate (p < 0.01). The F2F rabbits showed higher levels of creatine phosphokinase and lactate dehydrogenase and lower values of blood glucose than those of the other groups, due to the higher locomotion activity. The use of mirrors can improve rabbit’s growth performance and carcass traits by lowering the rabbit’s locomotion activity in comparison to the other tested systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental enrichment; animals’ welfare; meat quality; dressing out; meat to bone ratio; hematological traits; serum biochemistry; short-chain fatty acids—SCFAs environmental enrichment; animals’ welfare; meat quality; dressing out; meat to bone ratio; hematological traits; serum biochemistry; short-chain fatty acids—SCFAs
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MDPI and ACS Style

Musco, N.; Lombardi, P.; Addeo, N.F.; Secci, G.; Parisi, G.; Pero, M.E.; Piccolo, G.; Nizza, A.; Bovera, F. Mirrors Can Affect Growth Rate, Blood Profile, Carcass and Meat Traits and Caecal Microbial Activity of Rabbits Reared in a “Small Group” Free-Range System. Animals 2019, 9, 639. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090639

AMA Style

Musco N, Lombardi P, Addeo NF, Secci G, Parisi G, Pero ME, Piccolo G, Nizza A, Bovera F. Mirrors Can Affect Growth Rate, Blood Profile, Carcass and Meat Traits and Caecal Microbial Activity of Rabbits Reared in a “Small Group” Free-Range System. Animals. 2019; 9(9):639. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090639

Chicago/Turabian Style

Musco, Nadia, Pietro Lombardi, Nicola F. Addeo, Giulia Secci, Giuliana Parisi, Maria E. Pero, Giovanni Piccolo, Antonino Nizza, and Fulvia Bovera. 2019. "Mirrors Can Affect Growth Rate, Blood Profile, Carcass and Meat Traits and Caecal Microbial Activity of Rabbits Reared in a “Small Group” Free-Range System" Animals 9, no. 9: 639. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090639

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