First Call

  • call is closed
  • 20 funding organisations involved from 16 countries
  • total budget of 14 Mio €
  • 67 full-proposals received
  • 10 projects recommended for funding

RABHO Rabbit housing


Development and assessment of alternative animal-friendly housing systems for rabbit does with kits and growing rabbits



1 (Promoting research on the interface between animal health and welfare: development of practical animal-based indicators of animal health and welfare, development and implementation of new husbandry strategies ensuring good health and welfare.)

Duration of project:

36 Months

Total project costs:

531.621 €

Animal group:


Principle investigator:

Steffen Hoy, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany

Project partner:

ITAVI, France
Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias, Spain
Kaposvar University Hungary, Hungary
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale Umbria e Marche, Italy

Rabbits for meat production are still commonly housed in small, barren wire cages in contrast to many other species for which more animal-friendly alternatives have been developed. In many European countries, there are strong societal concerns about this type of rabbit housing. Therefore, research on alternative systems is important and urgent. In an international network alternative housing systems will be developed (group housing for does with kits and ?park? housing for growing rabbits) and the impact of these systems on mortality, morbidity, physiology, behaviour and performance will be assessed. The project is a continuation of the COST action 848, partly by the same teams. The link between the sub-projects is the use of the same methods in the groups (with the recording of the health, ethological and productive parameters). Also, we will evaluate the relative importance of different types of environmental enrichment by studying the rabbits? motivation to get access to these enrichments. The spectrum of methods includes the documentation of all losses and antibiotic treatments, skin lesions, the observation of the behaviour, the measurement of reproductive hormones, the registration of performance, pathological and histological findings. Also, we will carry out an economical evaluation. For growing rabbits the effect of housing system is combined with the impact of new feedstuffs (feed blocks or green feeding) to improve gut health and to prevent the occurrence of epizootic rabbit enteropathy. For group housed does, the investigation of agonistic behaviour among group-mates and options to reduce aggressiveness are in the centre of research. Basic research (e.g., the use of open field, aggressiveness and motivation tests) is linked to applied research (development and investigation of new housing systems under welfare aspects). A Good Practices Code for evaluation of rabbit housing will be developed as the result of the whole project.


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