Mondin, C., Trestini, S., Trocino, A. et al. 2021. The economics of rabbit farming: A pilot study on the impact of different housing systems. Animals 11(11), 3040.
This research evaluates the economic sustainability of rabbit farms using different housing systems—bicellular (BI), conventional dual-purpose (DP) and enriched cages designed according to the World Rabbit Science Association guidelines (WRSA)—through a field-based study involving six farms over the course of five years. The cages were compared based on three productivity indices expressed in kg of produced live weight/m2 and on eight cost indices expressed in EUR/kg of produced live weight. The results showed that WRSA significantly reduced the productivity index per walkable cage area in buildings and cages, thanks to the longer platform area included in the cage compared to the other systems. Concerning cost indexes, total variable costs were not different among housing systems, whereas significant differences were observed within costs items. As for the feed costs, DP underperforms compared to BI or WRSA (1.15 vs. 1.02 and 0.99 EUR/kg produced live weight); for drugs costs, BI was less competitive compared to DP and WRSA (0.12 vs. 0.06 and 0.05 EUR /kg). In conclusion, under the conditions of the present study, the economic results of farms that adopted housing systems designed to improve rabbit welfare, such as WRSA enriched systems, were economically sustainable and, comparable to conventional housing systems based on BI or DP cages, also provided a significant reduction in drug use in the tested farms. A comprehensive collection of data from more farms at a European level would be necessary to confirm these results on the economics of farms adopting alternative housing systems for rabbits.