Rabbit Code Progress Reports

Sixth meeting – October 24 and 25, 2016

The Code Committee met for the 6th and final face-to-face meeting prior to the upcoming public comment period. The purpose of this meeting was to allow the committee to review the entire draft Code and make final changes to the draft.

The committee successfully worked through a majority of the draft Code. Teleconferences will soon be scheduled to firm up a few sections under the housing chapter that merit further discussion. Once consensus is reached on all sections of the Code, the draft will be finalized, reviewed once more by committee members and then submitted to NFACC for preparation prior to its release for public feedback. 

Fifth meeting - July 5 and 6, 2016

The rabbit Code Development Committee’s fifth meeting took place in Ottawa. The main goal of this meeting was to review drafts of the two chapters of the Code still to be developed: Health Management (e.g. monitoring rabbit health, disease prevention) and Euthanasia (e.g. when to euthanize, methods of euthanasia). The Code committee also had an opportunity to revisit certain provisions under the Housing and Reproductive Management chapters that needed further consideration.

The Chair of the Scientific Committee provided an overview of the research on rabbit euthanasia. The Scientific Committee’s synthesis of research on rabbit health was presented to the Code committee via teleconference prior to the July meeting. As all of the chapters of the Scientific Committee report have now been drafted and reviewed by the Code committee, the report will go to peer review.

The meeting concluded with a good discussion on strategies to promote the public comment period.

The next meeting has been scheduled for October 2016. 

Fourth meeting – March 29, 2016

The fourth meeting of the rabbit Code Development Committee was a one-day meeting in Montreal. First on the agenda was a discussion on herd-level targets for animal welfare and practical resources to assist producers in assessing animal welfare. The overall aim of this discussion was to contemplate ways of including measurable components in the Code, something that is emphasized in the Code development process. The committee then turned its attention to specific sections of the Housing and Equipment chapter that deserved further attention (mainly, space allowance and cage and pen design). The Chair of the Scientific Committee then provided an overview of their research summary on reproduction. The balance of the meeting was devoted to drafting the Code chapter on reproduction.

The Chair of the Code Committee thanked the group for their ongoing efforts and noted the great progress that has been made since their work together began one year ago.

The next meeting has been scheduled for July 2016.

Third meeting – January 5 and 6, 2016

The rabbit Code Committee had another busy and very successful meeting. The first day was focused on discussing two chapters from the Scientific Committee report (Feed and Water Management and Housing). From there, the committee revised a draft Code chapter on feed and water. The committee then turned its attention to the housing chapter of the Code and made good progress drafting sections on flooring and environmental refinements and held preliminary discussions on cage and pen design.

The second day consisted of a review of the Code chapter on transport and selected sections under the husbandry chapter.

The next meeting has been scheduled for March 2016. 

Second meeting – September 1 and 2, 2015

The first day of the rabbit Code committee’s second meeting began with a review of key points from the Code development process. From there, the committee turned its attention to revising selected topics drafted for the Housing and Equipment chapter and reviewed the Scientific Committee’s chapter on pre-transport priority welfare issues.

On day 2, the committee edited the draft chapter on Husbandry Practices (which includes topics such as handling, restraint and nail clipping) and had a preliminary discussion on how to approach the Code chapter on transport.

The next meeting has been scheduled for January 2016.

First meeting – March 19 and 20, 2015

The rabbit Code Development Committee held its first meeting in Montreal on March 19-20, 2015. The objectives for this meeting were to provide committee members with an orientation to the Code development process and allow committee members to get to know each other and establish its “group culture” – strategies for how it will work together over the next two and half years. 

In addition, the committee developed a preliminary outline for the Code, reviewed input on priority welfare issues (from both the Code and Scientific Committees) and agreed to a final list of priority welfare issues.  

Preliminary outline (each chapter will include several sub-sections):

  1. Site Selection
  2. Housing and Equipment
  3. Feed and Water
  4. Health Management
  5. Reproductive Management
  6. Husbandry Practices
  7. Transportation (on-farm considerations)
  8. Euthanasia
  9. Appendix (e.g. body condition scoring, transport decision tree and other resources)

The producer representatives and staff liaisons also gave presentations on rabbit production in their province. These presentations were greatly appreciated as a way for everyone to understand current animal care practices and housing and appreciate how these may differ across Canada.

As specified in the NFACC Code process, the scope of the rabbit Code will be on farm up to the farmgate. The Code will focus on farmed rabbit raised for meat and will include considerations for the show rabbit sector.

The next meeting has been scheduled for September 2015.