Welfare of Rabbits
Rabbit Farming in South Africa

© Judy Stuart
Rabbits are 100% dependent on their handlers (owners) to survive.

Rabbits for rabbit farming must be kept in cages to be successful breeders, for protection and to preserve the environment. However, rabbits are 100% dependant on their handlers (owners) to survive. To ensure this survival, a rabbit farmer must adhere to five internationally acknowledged rules.

Freedom from Thirst, Hunger and Malnutrition

Every rabbit must have sufficient food and water of the right quality, every day, for growth and production.

Freedom from Discomfort

Every rabbit must have a cage that is large enough for natural movement and to protect it from the weather and predators.

Freedom from Pain, Injury and Disease

Every rabbit must be checked regularly to ensure its health and that it is free of parasites. Its cage must be made in such a way as to not have bits of wire sticking out that can injure the animal.

Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour

The cage must be high enough to ensure that the rabbit can sit up on his hind legs, floor space allow the rabbit to stretch out flat on its side and hop around the cage easily.

Freedom from Fear and Distress

The rabbit should be protected from loud, sudden noises, dogs and other predators and must never be left hungry or in pain for any reason. Correct handling of rabbits is also important. When picking up or carrying the rabbit, it must feel secure in its handler's arms and must never be picked up by the ears. Read more about ‘How to Handle a Rabbit’.
If these five basic rules are adhered to, the rabbit will fulfill its role and breed well.

By Karoline Steenekamp