Developing effective and humane on-farm euthanasia methods is essential for all livestock industries to ensure that animals do not suffer and are killed humanely. Approved methods are lacking for commercial meat rabbits, potentially leading to poor welfare. We assessed several methods of on-farm killing of cull rabbits of different ages to determine which methods were most effective and humane. These included blunt force trauma (the most commonly used method on rabbit farms), a novel mechanical cervical dislocation device, and a non-penetrating captive bolt device. We evaluated method effectiveness by examining animal reflexes and behaviours after applying the method as well as by examining radiographs of rabbit heads for signs of skull damage, and by assessing the degree of trauma to the brain through dissection and microscopy, because more trauma is generally correlated with enhanced method effectiveness and irreversibility. We found that blunt force trauma resulted in an unacceptably high failure rate, particularly in mature rabbits, whereas the mechanical cervical dislocation and non-penetrating captive bolt devices were both highly effective for killing rabbits humanely and irreversibly. The non-penetrating captive bolt device was the most effective with a 100% success rate and could be used on all rabbits weighing more than 150 g.
|Publisher||Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute|
|Location of Publication||Basel, Switzerland|