(2008) measure the fatness by palpating loin and rump regions and scored body condition on a scale from 0 to 2. Measures to mitigate the welfare consequences were also considered. Subsequently, a smaller group of 10 experts was invited to an EKE workshop to revise and discuss the results of the survey. When the ambient temperature increases above 30°C, rabbits show a significantly higher respiration rate, more than 32–60 respirations per minute in does which is probably age dependent (Harcourt‐Brown, 2002). gentle handling of the rabbits in containers and individually) (ToR‐3). In response to ToR‐3, preventive and corrective measures for the identified hazards have been identified and described. The restraint must be such that it provides good access to the neck for effective neck cutting and bleeding out. If animals show signs of consciousness, intervention needs to be applied i.e. Categories of Easiness: ‘Easy/green’ = 1.0 ≤ × ≤ 1.66, ‘Normal/yellow’ = 1.66 < × ≤ 2.33, ‘Difficult/red’ = 2.33 < × ≤ 3.0. before being transported, rabbits may have been deprived of food (and sometimes water) for a variable duration, rabbits arriving at the slaughterhouse have been submitted to transportation under variable climatic conditions, duration and conditions (e.g. The stocking densities found in this survey ranged from 346 cm2/kg (28.9 kg/m2) to 108 cm2/kg (92.6 kg/m2). (2000) recorded electrocorticograms (ECoGs) in eight commercial rabbits (1.7–3.1 kg) following the application of 100 V of a 50 Hz sine wave AC for 1 s. The results showed induction of typical epileptic activity in six rabbits, of which only two showed tonic/clonic seizures, the typical animal‐based measure used to recognise the occurrence of a generalised epilepsy. Traumatic injuries during postmortem inspection have been considered (Grilli et al., 2015) to be an indicator for bad transport, loading/unloading and handling causing negative welfare consequences, without possibility to distinguish the phase(s) where the injuries appeared. The minimal exposure time used in the study of Dalmau et al. If incomplete sectioning is suspected or recognised after the first cut staff should perform a second cut immediately to prevent recovery of consciousness in animals. Similarly, it suggests indicators to confirm animals are dead before dressing. At the same time, upper oesophageal sphincter muscles exhibited regular aperiodic low‐amplitude impulse activity of tonic type (Kromin et al., 2016). The EFSA Guidance on EKE (EFSA, 2014) provides detailed protocols for obtaining expert judgement in the areas covered by EFSA's food safety remit. Reproduction of the images listed below is prohibited and permission must be sought directly from the copyright holder: Figure 4: © Credit Avipôle Formation; Figures 8, 11: © Federation of French Poultry Industries; Figures 10, 11 and 14: © European Union, 2018; Figure 7: © Mohan Raj 2019. A first screening of all titles and abstracts was performed to remove articles related to species, productive systems, phases and research purposes that were out of the scope of this opinion, leading to 20 records. An approach was agreed for discussion and explanation of the values for sensitivity and specificity. It is recommended that on‐farm withdrawal plus duration of transportation plus lairage time, should not exceed 12 h. This can be achieved by planning carefully these phases and schedule and prioritise slaughter of animal. Rabbit farming and slaughter in China. EFSA (2005). At arrival and lairage, if effective temperature is still below thermoneutral zone (can be checked by measuring temperature and appropriate indicators – for details see Section 3.6.1), then adequate shelter should be provided to protect rabbits from the wind. It also describes welfare indicators for all phases of the slaughter process (relevant for the European Commission mandate), including indicators for the stunning phase (relevant for both mandates). The comfort limits for rabbits (Marai et al., 2002) are defined as: temperature–humidity index (THI) < 27.8°C, absence of heat stress; 27.8–28.9°C, moderate heat stress; 28.9–30°C, severe heat stress; THI > 30°C, very severe heat stress. Relevant indicators are also listed, and they will be described in detail in the following Section 3.6.1. Fear can be elicited by different occasional stimuli or even by defective management and housing conditions, which can affect animal response and welfare to a different extent depending on the frequency of occurrence, duration and severity of the threat. Moreover, no measurable (numerical) thresholds have been given to identify and certainly determine not acceptable fear levels with regard to animal welfare and health. At arrival, when there is a too high effective temperature animal should be protected from the sun or unloaded immediately from the truck. For some hazards, there are no corrective measures available (e.g. It is important to assess the consciousness and the death of rabbits after bleeding and before being processed. Please check your email for instructions on resetting your password. Nearly all the states provide by law that an animal must be "rendered insensible to pain" (e.g., made unconscious or killed) prior to being hoisted or shackled for slaughter. RSPCA approved supposed ‘humane’ slaughter of broiler (meat) chickens also includes the use of CO2 gas chambers. An indicator for slaughter with prior stunning is considered to be 100 % sensitive if it detects all the conscious animals as conscious; an indicator is considered to be 100 % specific if it detects all the unconscious animals as unconscious. pain due to rough handling). Restrictions applied in the search string related to the processes characterising ‘slaughter and killing’ (from arrival to bleeding) of animals in containers, and the date of publication (considering only those records published after EFSA, 2004). Improper handling of containers; careless driving of forklifts; Dropping of containers; uneven floor. Research has shown that the time to return of spontaneous breathing in head‐only electrically stunned rabbit was 22 s (Anil et al., 2000) and an EU‐wide survey of best practices in rabbit slaughterhouses indicated that maximum stun‐to‐stick interval is 10 s, exceptionally 20 s in one slaughterhouse (European Commission, 2017). An indicator for death is considered to be 100% sensitive if it detects all dead animals as dead. In bleeding during slaughter without stunning, this hazard is a part of the method; therefore, it applies to all animals. In Sections 3.1–3.3, the relevant slaughter processes are described in three parts. If food deprivation continues, the lower blood glucose levels activate sympatho‐adreno‐medullary system, which stimulates the lipolysis and the triglycerides stored in fat are released into the blood circulation as free fatty acids (FFAs). We do not recommend the 'Hopper Popper' … Indicators: The potential indicators for prolonged hunger in rabbits are for example the presence of bile, urates or orange casts (sloughed intestinal lining) on the floor of the containers (Manitoba, CIFA, https://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/livestock/production/commercial-rabbit/feed-withdrawal-a-practical-look-at-its-effect-on-intestine-emptying-contamination-and-yield.html) and weight loss. Then you’ll hang the rabbit upside down and slit its jugular in order for it to bleed out. Additionally, a significant interaction between travel and lairage duration on DOA was identified and it was showed that a journey shorter than 1 h can significantly reduce ‘dead‐on‐arrival’ rate associated with a long lairage (Caucci et al., 2018). The latter method is not allowed in the EU anymore following Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009, but may still be practiced elsewhere in the world. Two working group experts were included to incorporate the discussions within the working group and balance the composition of the elicitation group. EFSA (2005). However, this method is not ideal and requires skill, experience and physical strength. severe kicking, head lifting, body arching). They are also elements for implementing standard operating procedures (SOP). 3 methods of killing a rabbit when hunting, or for survival or bushcraft.All methods are good and generally easy to learn. The ease of use is expressed by different colours (green = easy, orange = moderate, red = difficult). Pain and fear due to incorrect handling can be assessed through escape attempts and vocalisations. Use parameters appropriate to the frequency and waveforms of current; ensure the voltage is sufficient to deliver minimum current; regular calibration and maintenance of the equipment; consider the factors contributing to high electrical resistance and minimise–eliminate the source of high resistance; monitor stun quality routinely and adjust the equipment accordingly; use constant current source equipment; wetting the head of rabbits with a damp sponge, Proper monitoring and maintenance of gas concentration, Maintenance and calibration of the equipment, Adequate gas monitoring and maintenance of required concentration, Maintain adequate exposure time for the gas concentration. When rough handling has been performed, there is no corrective measure for this hazard. Nevertheless, the same authors observed that winter transport increased muscle activity as evidenced by the lower liver and muscle glycogen concentration. When rabbits are slaughtered without stunning, repeated cuts correspond to sawing movement with a knife. Rabbits will experience the negative welfare consequences of the hazards they are subjected to only in case they are conscious. Rabbits are mostly affected by heat stress after weaning age, especially in Mediterranean countries or in hot summer periods. During head‐only electrical stunning, rabbits will be exposed to pain and fear due to incorrect handling during manual restraint or due to bad design of the electrode and consciousness leading to pain and fear, if poor electrical contact, too short exposure time, inappropriate electrical parameters or prolonged stun to stick interval occur. However, in their overview tables, they still refer to huddling as a feasible measure. Arrival of rabbits at a slaughterhouse is the first process of slaughtering and it takes place from the moment the truck arrives at the slaughterhouse until the moment the containers are unloaded from the truck. For this, a technical workshop was held to reach consensus among experts on estimates for sensitivity, specificity and ease of use of the various indicators. Implementation of such an equipment would greatly benefit rabbit welfare at slaughter. General consideration on process description. On European average, how many of them will be recognised as alive by the indicator? For long‐lasting effective stun, the bolt should be placed directly on the skull at the intersection of lines drawn from the lateral canthus of each eye to the opposite ear, aiming towards the medulla oblongata (Figure 9). Inevitably, if hunger continued beyond this metabolic state, animals will go into a state of catabolism utilising protein as a source of energy. (2016) reported that the state of consciousness after exposure to gas stunning can be assessed using indicators such as the presence of breathing, the presence of a corneal or palpebral reflex, vocalisations and the righting reflex. According to European Commission (2018), rabbit should be suspended upside‐down and deliver the blow on top of its head, just behind the ears. Consequently, more than 1.2 billion rabbits are slaughtered every year, after living in intense confinement. For example, head‐only electrical stunning of rabbits induces tonic–clonic seizures. Operator rotation to avoid fatigue. The accuracy of the blow and force delivered to the skull would vary according to the operators’ fitness, skill levels and attitude (European Commission, 2017). Each row of the table reports the link between a hazard, the relevant welfare consequences and related indicators, the hazard's origins and the preventive and corrective measures. Regarding the possible occurrence of false‐negative hazards, the experts were 90–95% certain that they identified all welfare hazards considered in this assessment according to the three criteria described in the Interpretation of ToRs. Definition: Rabbits have no access to water for some hours, leading to thirst and, with prolonged dehydration, difficulties in coping with high temperatures etc. Only one abattoir used specific lairage cages which required transfer of animals from one cage used for transport to another in the lairage. Measuring units should be well maintained and calibrated on a regular basis. It includes the realisation that animals are sentient beings that can suffer from pain and fear, and therefore, should be treated correctly in order to avoid negative welfare consequences. This hazard can occur at any time the containers will be moved, e.g. Other humane methods you may consider are shot to the back of the head with an air rifle (use hollow point pellets and point towards the nose), the Rabbit Wringer, or Ballista Penetrating Bolt gun. The answers of the experts were aggregated afterwards to construct the common uncertainty distribution. For example the hazard “inappropriate electrical parameters” could be further subdivided into “wrong choice of electrical parameters or equipment”, “poor or lack of calibration”, “application of voltage/current at too low a level”, “frequency of current applied is too high for the amount of current delivered”. This applies to all the equipment used in the slaughterhouse. Heartbeat: Onset of death leads to permanent absence of heart beat, which can be ascertained physically by using a stethoscope where possible. All of them have staff as origin (ToR‐1). The ease of use of an indicator is considered in relation to physical aspects of its assessment. Key stage 2 (just prior to neck cutting): corneal or palpebral reflex, tonic/clonic seizures, breathing and righting reflex. The search yielded a total of 53 records which were exported to EndNote x7 together with the relevant metadata (e.g. A slaughterhouse is an environment with loud noises originating mainly from machines and manipulation or movement of containers and sometimes from personnel shouting. According to Karger (1995), the captive bolt diameter is critical because an important factor in determining effectiveness is the product of mass of the bolt and acceleration force applied to the head, and hence, the brain. Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 considers the main stunning methods to be reversible stunning methods (simple stunning). The Humane Slaughter Act, or the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act is a United States federal law designed to decrease suffering of livestock during slaughter. Additionally, it may happen that conscious rabbits are shackled when having injuries (e.g. Additionally, the RSPCA approves shackling chickens upside down by their feet, pulling them through an electrified body of water to render them unconscious, before they are decapitated by a mechanical blade. The results from the same study indicated that rabbits were put in lairage area in the cage stands they were transported in (Buil et al., 2004). In addition, vocalisation and spontaneous blinking can be assessed (further details about indicator selection, specificity and sensitivity are referred to in Section 3.6.2). To address the ToRs, experts identified hazards’ origins and related preventive and corrective measures, the possible welfare consequences of the hazards and relevant indicators. As a result of the discussion, some questions were further split (e.g. Temperature and humidity can be registered at the crate level and recording systems can monitor the climatic conditions in the area and allow alarm warning when the values are outside the thermoneutrality zone of the rabbit (15–25°C and 60–65% humidity; DEFRA, 2005; Verga et al., 2007, see Table 7). Righting reflex: Head righting (attempt to raise head), head shaking after stunning. Based on these values, graphs were built to facilitate the selection of the most appropriate indicators according to the procedure described in Section Although slaughter without stunning of rabbits is practiced, scientific evidence is scarce. During slaughter without stunning, the inversion in a cone can replace the shackling. In rabbits, 50 Hz is the most commonly frequency used. According to the EKE guidance, this was done using an equal weighted superimposition of the individual answers (range, coverage and median), followed by a fitting of a Beta‐distribution to smooth the outcome. for the minimal/maximal value of the average sensitivity in Europe. In toolbox 1, the key indicators for monitoring effective stunning immediately following application are corneal or palpebral reflex, breathing, immediate collapse and tonic/clonic seizures. A literature search was carried out to identify hazards related to animal welfare during slaughter of rabbits in peer‐reviewed and grey literature. de Jong et al. There is limited information available regarding suitable indicators for monitoring appropriate restraint and stun quality in rabbits stunned using head‐only electrical stunning. In the lairage, temperature variations can be significant and depend on the time of day and the season. For the elicitation, the experts used the approximate probability scale (see Table 3) proposed in the EFSA uncertainty guidance (EFSA Scientific Committee, 2019). Although weight loss is indicative of a metabolic crisis, there is no practical animal‐based measure in the slaughterhouse to estimate the magnitude of the issue. Also, vocalisation and spontaneous blinking can be included. Death should be confirmed by ensuring the presence of signs of death. A negative test outcome of the indicator suggests the animal is alive. (2011), referring to expert discussions on the on‐farm situation of rabbit resting behaviour, question whether it is necessary that all animals can use the resting area at the same time. At the end of the stunning cycle breathing should be suppressed to the level of being absent, only some gasping may occur. According to Cavani and Petracci (2004), rabbits lose 3–6% of body weight during the first 12 h of fasting. 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