Animal Welfare Research Needs for Rabbits

Following is a list of research priorities gaps identified during the rabbit Code development process. Click here to visit the rabbit Code web page for the Scientific Committee report and to view the full Code.

List compiled: November 2017


  • Management of group-housed does.
  • Management of rabbits in outdoor systems.
  • Welfare benefits and risks of raising growing rabbits in pens.
  • Shelter use and preference.
  • Refinement of buck housing in terms of space allowance and enrichment.
  • Optimum stocking density and group size at different stages of production and in different housing types.
  • Welfare benefits and risks of alternative flooring types.
  • Effect of ultrasonic noise (emitted from lighting and equipment) on welfare.
  • Effect of lighting (intensity and duration) on welfare.


  • Association between AI techniques and doe welfare, including morbidity and mortality.
  • Effect of bio-stimulation methods on the welfare of does and kits.
  • Effect of early and late weaning ages on doe and kit welfare.
  • Welfare implications of giving does free access to kits in the early postpartum period.
  • Effect of extended rebreeding interval on doe body condition and health.
  • Litter size and doe and kit welfare (i.e. effect of balancing litters).


  • Non-pharmacologic methods (e.g. probiotics) of reducing or minimizing Rabbit Enteritis Complex (REC) in growing rabbits.
  • Extent of encephalitozoonosis in commercial meat rabbits and contributions to animal distress.
  • Impact of biosecurity practices on infectious diseases.
  • Buck health and disease prevalence.
  • Evaluation of alternative therapies in commercial meat rabbits (e.g. medications, plant products, alternative health products).

Feed and water

  • Potential adverse effects of feed restriction and feed control practices on hunger and behaviour.
  • Effect of feeding practices on buck welfare.
  • Effect of fibre length on gut health.


  • Rabbits’ responses to extended periods of feed and water withdrawal.
  • Welfare response to transportation in different containers and conveyances (e.g. forced ventilation).
  • Welfare response to long periods of lairage and transportation (i.e. greater than 8 hours).
  • Optimum loading density under different environmental conditions.


  • Alternative euthanasia methods (e.g. carbon monoxide, electrocution).


Education priorities:

Education and training of Canadian veterinary students in the areas of commercial meat rabbit production and medical needs of rabbits.

Producer workshops and other training resources to build producers’ knowledge and competence relative to the rabbit Code of Practice.