• TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 Introduction and procedure
 Results
 Summary
 Literature cited














Group Title: Animal Science mimeograph report - University of Florida Department of Animal Science ; no. AN70-7
Title: Colony housing of domestic rabbits
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00073023/00001
 Material Information
Title: Colony housing of domestic rabbits
Series Title: Animal Science mimeograph report
Physical Description: 3 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Arrington, Lewis Robert, 1919-
University of Florida -- Dept. of Animal Science
University of Florida -- Agricultural Experiment Station
Publisher: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1970
 Subjects
Subject: Rabbits -- Housing -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaf 3).
Statement of Responsibility: L.R. Arrington.
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "March, 1970."
Funding: Animal Science Department mimeograph report ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00073023
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 79629035

Table of Contents
    Introduction and procedure
        Page 1
    Results
        Page 2
    Summary
        Page 3
    Literature cited
        Page 3
Full Text
0 0



70-9
Animal Science
Mimeograph Report No. AN 70-7
March, 1970


Florida Agricultural
Experiment Station
Gainesville, Florida


COLONY HOUSING OF DOMESTIC RABBITS
1/
L. R. Arrington-



The most common method of housing mature domestic rabbits in this
country is in individual cages. Many types of cages such as multiple
tiers within a structure may be used, but a common feature is an individual
complete housing unit per adult animal. Such individual caging of a small
species requires excessive labor input per animal for routine care in
commercial production. If rabbit production is to expand and compete with
other forms of meat production, it would appear that labor costs must be
reduced. The extensive use of multiple housing for poultry with the appli-
cation of many automated procedures is an example of labor saving devices
not yet applied to rabbits. Automatic watering devices are adaptable and
widely used in larger rabbitries, but this device represents about the only
labor saving procedure which has been automated.

One method of reducing labor costs per rabbit would appear to be
multiple or colony housing. Attempts have been made by producers to house
rabbits in groups, but the general lack of success has made it necessary
to continue with individual housing for the great majority of adult domestic
rabbits. The major problems of multiple housing are excessive fighting
among adults and high mortality of the newborn. Young rabbits normally
may be penned together without difficulty. Since some rabbits appear to
have less tendency to fight than others and are less excitable, it may be
that selective breeding of these animals could lead to development of
strains that could be housed successfully in groups.


Although various attempts have been made to
specific reports of the results are limited (1).
present experiment was to study the reproduction
housed in small groups.


house rabbits in groups,
The purpose of the
and management of rabbits


Procedure


Two groups of Dutch rabbits were established at weaning
maintained together for approximately 14 months. Each group
of one male and three females. Initially, four females were
one group, but one of these females died after five months.


age and
consisted
assigned to
Pens were


Arrington, Animal Nutritionist. The assistance of Mr. T. C. Beaty, Jr.
is gratefully acknowledged.










-2-


4 x 5 1/2 feet in size on concrete floors covered with about two inches
of wood shavings for bedding. Bedding was changed at about 10-day inter-
vals or as required. A complete pelleted rabbit diet (Purina Rabbit Chow)
was provided ad libitum and water made available in raised bowls.

With this method of housing, breeding occurred at sexual maturity.
No records of breeding dates could be maintained, but records of litters
produced, number born and number weaned were maintained. Nest boxes were
provided from the time that first litters were expected. Both groups
remained together for 12 months after the first litter was born. All young
were removed at the normal weaning age.


Results

The two groups of original rabbits were maintained together satisfactor-
ily for the 14-month period. Fighting was not a problem except at the times
when there were young litters. This fighting was minimal and did not
necessitate the removal of any of the adult animals, but was apparently
the cause of injury and death to some of the young. One outbreak of
coccidiosis occurred during the 14-month period and all rabbits were
treated for three weeks with a sulfa drug (Triple Sulfur G) in the drinking
water. No other incidence of coccidiosis appeared and no other abnormalities
were observed.

Data indicating the number of litters, number of young born and those
weaned are shown in table 1. The number of litters produced per year per
female was greater than that which could be expected from standard methods
of breeding. This likely resulted from the early re-breeding of females
which had lost their litters, were not lactating and thus could be bred
earlier than normal. The average number born per litter (5.9) was greater
than that observed in this laboratory for Dutch rabbits bred by standard
procedures. Unpublished data from approximately 100 litters indicated an
average of 4.9 young per litter.

High mortality of the newborn occurred and the number of rabbits
reaching weaning age was greatly reduced. Only 42 percent of the total
born reached weaning age. Mortality of hutch raised rabbits has been
reported to be 19.6 percent from all causes up to weaning age (2). The
high mortality, 58 percent, observed in the present study was the major
problem observed. Some of this resulted from injury to the young, some
from abandonment or failure to nurse and some cannibalism was observed. In
many cases, litters were delivered in nest boxes with an existing litter
even though other boxes were available. The dominant or more aggressive
female normally took over the nest box and refused admission to the other.
It is felt that a larger housing area and more widely separated nest boxes
may have helped to overcome this problem. In some cases, young were born
outside of nest boxes even though vacant boxes were available.










-3-


Summary

Two groups of three females and on male Dutch rabbit each were
established at weaning and maintained together for 14 months. Number of
litters produced and number of young per litter were equal to or greater
than those produced by standard methods of breeding, but mortality of the
newborn was high. Only 42 percent of the young born survived to weaning
age. Additional studies with larger pens, larger groups and different
strains of rabbits are needed to determine whether a savings in labor
with colony housing may compensate for the reduced number of yound weaned.


Literature Cited

1. Nagal, Carl F. 1969. Raising Rabbits in Colonies. The National
Rabbitman magazine. 36: 6-9.

2. Lund, Everett E. 1961. Mortality Among Hutch Raised Domestic Rabbits.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Circular No. 883.




TABLE 1. REPRODUCTION IN RABBITS HOUSED IN COLONIES FOR 14 MONTHS


Group 1 Group 2 Total

No. females 3 3 6
No. males 1 1 2
No. litters 22 22 44
Total born 122 136 258
Total weaned 71 37 108
Percent weaned 58.2 27 42
No. born per litter 5.5 6.2 5.9
No. weaned per litter 3.2 1.8 2.4
No. litters per year per female 6.6 7.0 6.3










-3-


Summary

Two groups of three females and on male Dutch rabbit each were
established at weaning and maintained together for 14 months. Number of
litters produced and number of young per litter were equal to or greater
than those produced by standard methods of breeding, but mortality of the
newborn was high. Only 42 percent of the young born survived to weaning
age. Additional studies with larger pens, larger groups and different
strains of rabbits are needed to determine whether a savings in labor
with colony housing may compensate for the reduced number of yound weaned.


Literature Cited

1. Nagal, Carl F. 1969. Raising Rabbits in Colonies. The National
Rabbitman magazine. 36: 6-9.

2. Lund, Everett E. 1961. Mortality Among Hutch Raised Domestic Rabbits.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Circular No. 883.




TABLE 1. REPRODUCTION IN RABBITS HOUSED IN COLONIES FOR 14 MONTHS


Group 1 Group 2 Total

No. females 3 3 6
No. males 1 1 2
No. litters 22 22 44
Total born 122 136 258
Total weaned 71 37 108
Percent weaned 58.2 27 42
No. born per litter 5.5 6.2 5.9
No. weaned per litter 3.2 1.8 2.4
No. litters per year per female 6.6 7.0 6.3




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