Scientific opinion concerning the killing of rabbits for purposes other than slaughter

rabbit, on‐farm killing, hazards, animal welfare consequences, welfare indicators, preventive/corrective measures
First published in the EFSA Journal
10 janvier 2020
Adopted
10 décembre 2019
Type
Scientific Opinion

Abstract

Rabbits of different ages may have to be killed on‐farm for purposes other than slaughter (where slaughter is defined as killing for human consumption) either individually or on a large scale (e.g. for production reasons or for disease control). The purpose of this opinion was to assess the risks associated to the on‐farm killing of rabbits. The processes during on‐farm killing that were assessed included handling, stunning and/or killing methods (including restraint). The latter were grouped into four categories: electrical methods, mechanical methods, controlled atmosphere method and lethal injection. In total, 14 hazards were identified and characterised, most of these related to stunning and/or killing. The staff was identified as the origin for all hazards, either due to lack of the appropriate skill sets needed to perform tasks or due to fatigue. Possible corrective and preventive measures were assessed: measures to correct hazards were identified for five hazards and the staff was shown to have a crucial role in prevention. Five welfare consequences of the welfare hazards to which rabbits can be exposed to during on‐farm killing were identified: not being dead, consciousness, pain, fear and distress. Welfare consequences and relevant animal‐based measures were described. Outcome tables linking hazards, welfare consequences, animal‐based measures, origins, preventive and corrective measures were developed for each process. Mitigation measures to minimise welfare consequences are proposed.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Julio Alvarez, Dominique Joseph Bicout, Paolo Calistri, Klaus Depner, Julian Ashley Drewe, Bruno Garin‐Bastuji, Jose Luis Gonzales Rojas, Christian Gortázar Schmidt, Miguel Ángel Miranda Chueca, Virginie Michel, Søren Saxmose Nielsen, Helen Clare Roberts, Liisa Helena Sihvonen, Hans Spoolder, Karl Stahl, Antonio Velarde Calvo, Arvo Viltrop and Christoph Winckler.
Panel on Animal Health and Welfare
Contact
alpha [at] efsa.europa.eu
doi
10.2903/j.efsa.2020.5943
EFSA Journal 2020;18(1):5943
On request from
European Parliament and European Commission