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Effects of semi-group housing and floor type on pododermatitis, spinal deformation and bone quality in rabbit does

Stephanie Buijs, Katleen Hermans UGent, L Maertens, Annemie Van Caelenberg UGent and Frank Tuyttens UGent (2014) ANIMAL. 8(10). p.1728-1734
abstract
The most common housing system for reproduction rabbits, individual cage housing on a wire floor, is increasingly scrutinized because of its potential detrimental impact on animal welfare. We compared three types of housing: (1) individual cage housing on a wire floor (3952 cm(2)/doe, maximum roof height 63 cm, one 1000 cm(2) plastic footrest/doe), (2) semi-group housing on a wire floor (5000 cm(2)/doe, roofless, one 1000 cm(2) plastic footrest/doe) and (3) the same semi-group housing, but with a fully plastic slatted floor. In all housing systems, does had free access to an elevated platform. In the semi-group housing pens, four does were housed communally during 21 days of the reproduction cycle (to allow more space for locomotion and to increase opportunities for social contact), and individually during the other 21 days of the cycle (to minimize doe-doe and doe-kit aggression that peaks around kindling). In all, 24 Hycole does were included per system. The does entered the experiment at 203 days of age (after their first parity). The experiment consisted of four reproductive cycles, ending at 369 days of age. Pododermatitis was scored in cycles 1, 2 and 4. At the end of the 4th cycle the does were euthanized and X-rays were taken to assess spinal deformation. Tibia and femur length, width and cortical thickness were determined and bone strength was assessed using a shear test, as a measure of bone quality. Although severe pododermatitis was absent, the prevalence of plantar hyperkeratosis (hair loss and callus formation) at the end of the 4th cycle was much greater on the wire floor (65% and 68% for semi-group housing and individual cages, respectively) than on the plastic floor (5%, P<0.0001), even though the wire floors were equipped with a plastic footrest known to decrease hyperkeratosis. In contrast to our expectations, semi-group housing did not affect the prevalence of spinal deformations (P>0.10), but in line with our expectations bone quality was affected favourably by semi-group housing. The tibial cortex (and to a lesser extent the femoral cortex) was thicker in semi-group housing than in individual cages (1.45, 1.46 and 1.38 mm for semi-group housing on wire, semi-group housing on plastic and individual housing on wire, respectively, P=0.045). What this increase in cortical thickness means in terms of doe welfare requires further study, as it may reflect an increase in activity resulting either from increased space for locomotion, or from fleeing aggressive pen mates.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
floor type, rabbit, pododermatitis, spinal deformation, bone quality, FATTENING RABBITS, BEHAVIOR, TRAITS, SYSTEM, CAGE
journal title
ANIMAL
Animal
volume
8
issue
10
pages
1728 - 1734
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000342219800019
JCR category
AGRICULTURE, DAIRY & ANIMAL SCIENCE
JCR impact factor
1.841 (2014)
JCR rank
7/57 (2014)
JCR quartile
1 (2014)
ISSN
1751-7311
DOI
10.1017/S1751731114001669
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
7024888
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-7024888
date created
2016-01-05 11:37:58
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:43:36
@article{7024888,
  abstract     = {The most common housing system for reproduction rabbits, individual cage housing on a wire floor, is increasingly scrutinized because of its potential detrimental impact on animal welfare. We compared three types of housing: (1) individual cage housing on a wire floor (3952 cm(2)/doe, maximum roof height 63 cm, one 1000 cm(2) plastic footrest/doe), (2) semi-group housing on a wire floor (5000 cm(2)/doe, roofless, one 1000 cm(2) plastic footrest/doe) and (3) the same semi-group housing, but with a fully plastic slatted floor. In all housing systems, does had free access to an elevated platform. In the semi-group housing pens, four does were housed communally during 21 days of the reproduction cycle (to allow more space for locomotion and to increase opportunities for social contact), and individually during the other 21 days of the cycle (to minimize doe-doe and doe-kit aggression that peaks around kindling). In all, 24 Hycole does were included per system. The does entered the experiment at 203 days of age (after their first parity). The experiment consisted of four reproductive cycles, ending at 369 days of age. Pododermatitis was scored in cycles 1, 2 and 4. At the end of the 4th cycle the does were euthanized and X-rays were taken to assess spinal deformation. Tibia and femur length, width and cortical thickness were determined and bone strength was assessed using a shear test, as a measure of bone quality. Although severe pododermatitis was absent, the prevalence of plantar hyperkeratosis (hair loss and callus formation) at the end of the 4th cycle was much greater on the wire floor (65\% and 68\% for semi-group housing and individual cages, respectively) than on the plastic floor (5\%, P{\textlangle}0.0001), even though the wire floors were equipped with a plastic footrest known to decrease hyperkeratosis. In contrast to our expectations, semi-group housing did not affect the prevalence of spinal deformations (P{\textrangle}0.10), but in line with our expectations bone quality was affected favourably by semi-group housing. The tibial cortex (and to a lesser extent the femoral cortex) was thicker in semi-group housing than in individual cages (1.45, 1.46 and 1.38 mm for semi-group housing on wire, semi-group housing on plastic and individual housing on wire, respectively, P=0.045). What this increase in cortical thickness means in terms of doe welfare requires further study, as it may reflect an increase in activity resulting either from increased space for locomotion, or from fleeing aggressive pen mates.},
  author       = {Buijs, Stephanie and Hermans, Katleen and Maertens, L and Van Caelenberg, Annemie and Tuyttens, Frank},
  issn         = {1751-7311},
  journal      = {ANIMAL},
  keyword      = {floor type,rabbit,pododermatitis,spinal deformation,bone quality,FATTENING RABBITS,BEHAVIOR,TRAITS,SYSTEM,CAGE},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {10},
  pages        = {1728--1734},
  title        = {Effects of semi-group housing and floor type on pododermatitis, spinal deformation and bone quality in rabbit does},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1751731114001669},
  volume       = {8},
  year         = {2014},
}

Chicago
Buijs, Stephanie, Katleen Hermans, L Maertens, Annemie Van Caelenberg, and Frank Tuyttens. 2014. “Effects of Semi-group Housing and Floor Type on Pododermatitis, Spinal Deformation and Bone Quality in Rabbit Does.” Animal 8 (10): 1728–1734.
APA
Buijs, S., Hermans, K., Maertens, L., Van Caelenberg, A., & Tuyttens, F. (2014). Effects of semi-group housing and floor type on pododermatitis, spinal deformation and bone quality in rabbit does. ANIMAL, 8(10), 1728–1734.
Vancouver
1.
Buijs S, Hermans K, Maertens L, Van Caelenberg A, Tuyttens F. Effects of semi-group housing and floor type on pododermatitis, spinal deformation and bone quality in rabbit does. ANIMAL. 2014;8(10):1728–34.
MLA
Buijs, Stephanie, Katleen Hermans, L Maertens, et al. “Effects of Semi-group Housing and Floor Type on Pododermatitis, Spinal Deformation and Bone Quality in Rabbit Does.” ANIMAL 8.10 (2014): 1728–1734. Print.