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Online Journal of Veterinary Research©
Volume 26 (8): 633-639, 2022..
Dept. of Hygiene and Preventive Med., Fac. of Vet. Med., Kafr EL-Sheikh University, Egypt.
Mousa-Balabel TM., Effect of housing and stock density on behavior and performance of female white New Zealand rabbits, Onl J Vet Res., Volume 26 (8): 633-639, 2022. Author reports effect of housing and stocking densities for 76 White New Zealand weaned rabbit does aged 5 weeks and weighing ~550g. For housing, we reared groups of 10 in straw bed pen (1) or cages (2) with floor of 2m2. For density we reared 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 or 16 rabbits/m2 by cages. Rabbits were provided pellet of 16.5% crude protein, 2.5% crude fat and 14% fibers at 9 am and 5 pm daily with ad libitum water. Animals were acclimatized 7 days with body weights taken at beginning and end and food intake recorded daily. We determined feed conversion ratio and maintenance, locomotion, investigatory, agonistic, comfortable and stereotype behavior. Compared with straw pens, in caged rabbits we found 7% more activity, 17% maintenance and 6% curious but 19% less comfort and 1% agonistic behavior (P < 0.001). Cages with more than 10 rabbits were associated with ~6% reduced locomotion 2-3% increased maintenance, 1.5% agonistic and ~3% stereotype behavior (P < 0.001). However, there was no effect of stocking density on investigatory behavior. We find that compared with pens, cages boost productivity in rabbits and stocking density should not exceed 10 rabbits/m2.
Keywords: behavior, housing system, stocking density, White New Zealand rabbit.