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Measuring fluctuating asymmetry in fattening rabbits: a valid indicator of performance and housing quality?

(2005) JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE. 83(11). p.2645-2652
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Abstract
Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) has been advocated as the preferred measure of developmental instability and a reliable indicator of the quality of an animal (performance/fitness) and of its environment during its growing life. Empirical studies, however, are too scant or equivocal to consider this assumption adequately validated, which is partly due to the lack of a robust methodological framework for collecting and analyzing FA data. Therefore, we conducted an experiment in which 306 weaned rabbits were housed either in welfare-friendly pens (n = 6) or barren pens (n = 6). The size of both types of pen was similar (1.91 m(2)), but the welfare-friendly pens were equipped with suitable enrichment material (gnawing stick, elevated platform, and hiding box) and were stocked with one-half of the number of rabbits compared with the barren pens (17 vs. 34 rabbits per pen). Performance data (BW gain, ADFI, and G:F) were collected every 14 d. After slaughter (d 63 to 72), we measured twice the left- and right-hand side of 11 presumed bilateral traits on intact carcasses and 50 traits on fleshed bones. Using a stringent decision process, an optimal combination of morphological traits for estimating FA in fattening rabbits was determined. This combination consisted of five traits (fleshed bones) that showed no directional asymmetry or antisymmetry and showed a high level of FA relative to the measurement error; also, these traits were not correlated in their signed FA values. Measurements on intact carcasses seemed inappropriate for estimating FA. Using this robust FA measuring protocol, rabbits housed in the welfare-friendly pens were less asymmetric than were rabbits from the barren pens. Except for a greater daily BW gain in the welfare-friendly pens during the first 14 d after weaning, there were no effects of housing conditions on performance traits. The FA was negatively correlated with BW gain in rabbits from the barren pens, whereas in the welfare-friendly pens, there was no correlation. These results support the application of FA as an indicator of animal welfare and performance; however, FA seems to be a more reliable estimator of the underlying developmental instability when living conditions are suboptimal.
Keywords
developmental instability, animal welfare, environmental enrichment, fluctuating asymmetry, production, rabbits, CHICKENS GALLUS-GALLUS, DEVELOPMENTAL INSTABILITY, MANDIBULAR CHARACTERS, STOCKING DENSITY, CAGED RABBITS, FITNESS, STRESS, STABILITY, BEHAVIOR, TRAITS

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Chicago
Tuyttens, Frank, L Maertens, E Van Poucke, A Van Nuffel, S Debeuckelaere, J Creve, and Luc Lens. 2005. “Measuring Fluctuating Asymmetry in Fattening Rabbits: a Valid Indicator of Performance and Housing Quality?” Journal of Animal Science 83 (11): 2645–2652.
APA
Tuyttens, Frank, Maertens, L., Van Poucke, E., Van Nuffel, A., Debeuckelaere, S., Creve, J., & Lens, L. (2005). Measuring fluctuating asymmetry in fattening rabbits: a valid indicator of performance and housing quality? JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE, 83(11), 2645–2652.
Vancouver
1.
Tuyttens F, Maertens L, Van Poucke E, Van Nuffel A, Debeuckelaere S, Creve J, et al. Measuring fluctuating asymmetry in fattening rabbits: a valid indicator of performance and housing quality? JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE. 2005;83(11):2645–52.
MLA
Tuyttens, Frank, L Maertens, E Van Poucke, et al. “Measuring Fluctuating Asymmetry in Fattening Rabbits: a Valid Indicator of Performance and Housing Quality?” JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE 83.11 (2005): 2645–2652. Print.
@article{330704,
  abstract     = {Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) has been advocated as the preferred measure of developmental instability and a reliable indicator of the quality of an animal (performance/fitness) and of its environment during its growing life. Empirical studies, however, are too scant or equivocal to consider this assumption adequately validated, which is partly due to the lack of a robust methodological framework for collecting and analyzing FA data. Therefore, we conducted an experiment in which 306 weaned rabbits were housed either in welfare-friendly pens (n = 6) or barren pens (n = 6). The size of both types of pen was similar (1.91 m(2)), but the welfare-friendly pens were equipped with suitable enrichment material (gnawing stick, elevated platform, and hiding box) and were stocked with one-half of the number of rabbits compared with the barren pens (17 vs. 34 rabbits per pen). Performance data (BW gain, ADFI, and G:F) were collected every 14 d. After slaughter (d 63 to 72), we measured twice the left- and right-hand side of 11 presumed bilateral traits on intact carcasses and 50 traits on fleshed bones. Using a stringent decision process, an optimal combination of morphological traits for estimating FA in fattening rabbits was determined. This combination consisted of five traits (fleshed bones) that showed no directional asymmetry or antisymmetry and showed a high level of FA relative to the measurement error; also, these traits were not correlated in their signed FA values. Measurements on intact carcasses seemed inappropriate for estimating FA. Using this robust FA measuring protocol, rabbits housed in the welfare-friendly pens were less asymmetric than were rabbits from the barren pens. Except for a greater daily BW gain in the welfare-friendly pens during the first 14 d after weaning, there were no effects of housing conditions on performance traits. The FA was negatively correlated with BW gain in rabbits from the barren pens, whereas in the welfare-friendly pens, there was no correlation. These results support the application of FA as an indicator of animal welfare and performance; however, FA seems to be a more reliable estimator of the underlying developmental instability when living conditions are suboptimal.},
  author       = {Tuyttens, Frank and Maertens, L and Van Poucke, E and Van Nuffel, A and Debeuckelaere, S and Creve, J and Lens, Luc},
  issn         = {0021-8812},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE},
  keyword      = {developmental instability,animal welfare,environmental enrichment,fluctuating asymmetry,production,rabbits,CHICKENS GALLUS-GALLUS,DEVELOPMENTAL INSTABILITY,MANDIBULAR CHARACTERS,STOCKING DENSITY,CAGED RABBITS,FITNESS,STRESS,STABILITY,BEHAVIOR,TRAITS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {11},
  pages        = {2645--2652},
  title        = {Measuring fluctuating asymmetry in fattening rabbits: a valid indicator of performance and housing quality?},
  url          = {https://www.animalsciencepublications.org/publications/jas/abstracts/83/11/0832645},
  volume       = {83},
  year         = {2005},
}

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