Evaluation of Methods for On-Farm Euthanasia of Commercial Meat Rabbits

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Walsh, Jessica
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University of Guelph

There are no validated euthanasia methods for meat rabbits. The goal of this research was to evaluate blunt force trauma (BFT), assisted manual cervical dislocation (AMCD), a non-penetrating captive bolt (NPCB) device and two fill rates of carbon dioxide (CO2) across several age groups of rabbits as methods for on-farm euthanasia. Physical methods were evaluated for their ability to cause immediate sustained insensibility until death occurred. Chamber fill rates for CO2 euthanasia gassing were compared based on signs of distress prior to loss of sensibility, time to insensibility and time to death. A 58% CO2 displacement rate resulted in a significantly shorter time to insensibility and death compared to a 28% displacement rate, with neither rate inducing significant distress behaviours. Our findings indicate that AMCD, a specific NPCB device, and CO2 inhalation at the rates studied are suitable methods for on-farm rabbit euthanasia, while blunt force trauma is ineffective.

rabbit euthanasia, blunt force trauma, assisted manual cervical dislocation, non-penetrating captive bolt, carbon dioxide, insensibility, animal welfare