Fecal corticosterone concentration (FCC) was measured in 14 buck rabbits individually housed in standard-dimension cages (SC) or in bigger cages (BC; with a volume more than double that of SC and equipped with a plastic foot mat) during 4 consecutive reproductive cycles. Cage type and reproductive phase (estrous synchronization of doe rabbits, artificial insemination, partum, preweaning, and postweaning) were not statistically significant but tendentially affected FCCs (.05 < p < .10). Buck rabbits housed in SC showed higher FCCs than those housed in BC (27.42 pg g− 1 dried feces and 25.57 pg g− 1, respectively; SEM = 2.952). The highest FCC values were detected at artificial insemination (BC, 27.91 pg g− 1; SC, 30.45 pg g− 1; SEM = 3.520), highlighting that the phase of semen collection could be one of the most critical moments for buck rabbits, although further investigations are needed. These preliminary results suggest that measurement of FCC could be used as an indicator of chronic stress in buck rabbits.
|Publication Title||Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science|
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