The effect of hay on the behaviour of caged rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Citation
H. Berthelsen et Lt. Hansen, The effect of hay on the behaviour of caged rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), ANIM WELFAR, 8(2), 1999, pp. 149-157
Citations number
26
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Animal Sciences
Journal title
ANIMAL WELFARE
ISSN journal
0962-7286 → ACNP
Volume
8
Issue
2
Year of publication
1999
Pages
149 - 157
Database
ISI
SICI code
0962-7286(199905)8:2<149:TEOHOT>2.0.ZU;2-R
Abstract
To examine the effect of hay on behaviour of caged rabbits, Oryctolagus cun iculus, a study was carried out on 86 rabbits, kept in wire cages with no a ccess to hay in one period and with access to hay in a second period. As th e study was part of a larger experiment analysing the rabbits' behaviour in two different cage systems, the rabbits were equally distributed across tw o systems: a system with conventional barren wire cages, and an enriched sy stem with boxes and raised height at the back of the wire cages. The rabbit s' behaviour was recorded using direct scan sampling during the day and con tinuous registration based on video recording at night. When hay was availa ble, the rabbits in both cage systems significantly less bar gnawing and ex cessive grooming. This applied especially to the rabbits kept in the conven tional cage system which also showed a distinct decrease in their frequency of changing between different behaviours. This suggests that rabbits kept in cages where hay is available are less stressed than those kept in cages where it is not. Enrichment with hay should, therefore, be considered in at tempts to improve the welfare of caged rabbits.