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Farmed rabbits - what are we doing?

We would like to see all farmed rabbits reared in higher welfare systems that provide enough space and the right types of facilities to allow them to exercise and behave normally.

Rabbits in a higher welfare group system © Shirley Seaman

Some of the main improvements we are asking for include the following.

  • Female and young rabbits housed in harmonious social groups.
     
  • Vertical space to rear on their hind legs, with ears fully erect. 
     
  • More space to carry out normal movements and exercise such as sequences of hopping steps. 
     
  • A structured environment with areas for resting, feeding and exercise, including refuge areas for withdrawal/escape and raised platforms to provide 'look out' points and the opportunity for jumping exercise. 
     
  • Comfortable solid flooring, with appropriate, clean bedding material (e.g. straw or shredded paper) to allow them to dig. 
     
  • An enriched diet including forage (hay) and edible knawing objects (e.g. wooden sticks/blocks). 
     
  • A well-ventilated, hygienic environment, kept at a comfortable temperature. 
     
  • Lighting that allows rabbits to behave normally with appropriate periods of light and dark. 
     
  • Only competent, trained staff allowed to care for/handle rabbits.


We would like stronger laws to protect farmed rabbits and more research and investment into the development of enriched group pen systems that properly cater for their needs.


Engaging with decision makers

 

We take every opportunity to raise our concerns about farmed rabbit welfare with governments, retailers and other key bodies/organisations, and highlight the need for the above improvements to be made. For example, in the past we put forward our views to the Council of Europe when they began drafting an EU recommendation on the keeping of farmed rabbits. Sadly, this draft EU recommendation has yet to result in an ‘adopted’ recommendation.


Producing Guidance

We’ve also produced guidance on improving the welfare of laboratory rabbits and the keeping of pet rabbits. Many of the recommendations for welfare improvements are also applicable to farmed rabbits.


If you’re interested in farmed rabbits and concerned about their welfare, you may like to know more about how you can help