On-farm euthanasia practices and attitudes of commercial meat rabbit producers

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Appropriate and timely on-farm euthanasia is the responsibility of the producer, working together with their herd veterinarian. Unfortunately, validated methods for euthanasia of commercial meat rabbits are lacking and there are few educational materials available for producer training. Because euthanasia must be performed in a timely fashion to minimise suffering, it is critical to ensure that methods used are aesthetic, humane and effective. We surveyed Canadian meat rabbit producers for current on-farm euthanasia practices as well as attitudes towards the methods they employed and thoughts on novel euthanasia techniques. Surveys were distributed with a response rate of 26 per cent (n=26). Blunt force trauma was the most common euthanasia method used (54 per cent), followed by assisted manual cervical dislocation (31 per cent). Half of producers admitted to not having a euthanasia method in place for all age groups of rabbits, instead electing to let sick and injured rabbits die on their own. While some producers reported feeling highly skilled and satisfied with their current euthanasia method, 58 per cent reported concerns with their current method and 42 per cent desired alternative methods to be developed. Responses to additional questions on training and awareness of euthanasia resources indicated that veterinarians are not part of on-farm euthanasia planning for meat rabbits.

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