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Evaluation of Two Different Flooring Designs for Rabbit Housing in Accordance with German Welfare Regulations: Soiling and Mortality

Institute for Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Farm Animal Behavior, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Bischofsholer Damm 15, D-30173 Hannover, Germany
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Agriculture 2019, 9(12), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9120257
Received: 7 November 2019 / Revised: 29 November 2019 / Accepted: 2 December 2019 / Published: 4 December 2019
The aim of the present study was to investigate a new housing system for fattening rabbits with two different flooring designs (F1 and F2) in accordance with new legal requirements in Germany (11 mm slats and 11 mm gaps, elevated platform with 15% perforation), in comparison with an established system with wire mesh flooring (C). While F1 flooring was made of punched slatted plastic panels, F2 consisted of fixed single rods with a rounded surface. In six batches with F1 and C housing, and subsequently three batches with F2 housing, soiling of rabbits’ hind feet, pens, and cages as well as mortality rates were recorded. While pens and rabbits in F2 conditions were assessed as being cleaner than F1, neither reached the cleanliness of C rabbits and cages. Mortality was highest in F1 housing (18.1%) and comparable between F2 (10.3%) and C housing (11.7%). The present investigations showed different results in terms of soiling and mortality for different implementations of the German regulations. Nevertheless, both floors in accordance with these requirements revealed hygienic disadvantages compared to the established cages. Further research is necessary in order to keep rabbits under good hygienic conditions and in compliance with legal requirements.
Keywords: fattening rabbits; legal requirements; floor type; slatted plastic floor; plastic net floor; wire net floor; wire mesh floor; elevated platform fattening rabbits; legal requirements; floor type; slatted plastic floor; plastic net floor; wire net floor; wire mesh floor; elevated platform
MDPI and ACS Style

Rauterberg, S.L.; Bill, J.; Kimm, S.; Kemper, N.; Fels, M. Evaluation of Two Different Flooring Designs for Rabbit Housing in Accordance with German Welfare Regulations: Soiling and Mortality. Agriculture 2019, 9, 257.

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