N. Stanciu

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STUDY ON THE AVERAGE HOURLY FREQUENCY OF DIFFERENT BEHAVIOR MANIFESTATIONS OF ADULT NEW ZEALAND WHITE AND CALIFORNIAN RABBITS DURING WINTER SEASON

N. Stanciu, Elena Popescu-Miclosanu

Abstract
    Studies on rabbit behavior as an indicator of their welfare are incomplete, contradictory and represented the concern of a small number of researchers, who, in general, did not take into account the production issues involved; therefore, an ethological research was conducted, considering the winter season circumstances, on 16 New Zealand White and Californian rabbits, for 20 days on month, under general raising conditions as provided by literature. The average temperature was of-2.40 ± 1.30 C °C. They were monitored based on ethological records specific to rabbits, in 10 hourly intervals, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. During the winter period, the New Zealand White females had an average hourly frequency of 1.20 ± 0.06 of feeding activities, whilst the Californian females had a frequency with 22.6% higher, of 1.55 ± 0.11. The smelling and cage exploring behaviors had an average hourly frequency higher on Californian females (1.30 ± 0.12 and respectively of 1.44± 0.21 on Californian females and 0.92 ± 0.07 and 1.15 ± 0.11 manifestations per hour on New Zealand White females). Rest behaviors had a higher frequency on Californian females compared to the New Zealand White ones. New Zealand White females registered more abnormal behavior activities than Californian females. During the winter period, the New Zealand White males had an average frequency of 1.15 ± 0.12 feeding activities, similar to the one of Californian males which was 1.17 ± 0.14. The smelling and cage exploring behaviors had a higher frequency on Californian males (1.80 ± 0.22 and respectively 1.52 ± 0.15 on Californian males and 1.33 ± 0.17 and respectively 1.21 ± 0.17 on New Zealand White males). Rest behaviors registered an average frequency higher on Californian males, whilst the New Zealand White males registered a higher frequency of abnormal behaviors. In conclusion, we can confirm that during the winter period, Californian females manifest a significantly higher number of feeding rounds than the males from the same breed and both New Zealand White males and females. The smelling and cage exploring behaviors are more frequent on Californian males and females than on New Zealand White males and females. Californian females are generally more active than the same breed of males, both regarding to activities such as watering, defecation, urinating, hygiene behaviors and also rest.

Key words: behavior, rabbits, winter season