Rabbit welfare : determining priority welfare issues for pet rabbits using a modified Delphi method

Fiona Rioja Lang, Heather Bacon, Melanie Connor, Cathy Dwyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the
UK, but little research into their welfare needs has been

Methods A modified Delphi method was used to generate
expert consensus on the most important welfare issues for
rabbits in the UK. The study involved 11 experts, recruited
from a range of disciplines. The experts generated an
initial broad list of welfare issues via an online discussion
board. Two rounds of online surveys were conducted to
prioritise these issues. The final round was a workshop
with a subsection of experts. The experts decided that
welfare issues should be ranked considering: (1) severity,
(2) duration, and (3) prevalence.
Results Experts considered that rabbits were often kept
in inadequate housing, were not handled or socialised
properly, were fed inappropriate diets and owners failed
to vaccinate their rabbits against preventable diseases.
Rabbits were thought to experience a reduced life
expectancy. Lack of owner knowledge of rabbit husbandry
and behaviour and, in some cases, also lack of veterinary
knowledge, contributed to poor rabbit welfare.

Conclusions The Delphi process resulted in consensus
on the most significant welfare challenges faced by rabbits
and can help guide future research and education priority
Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary Record Open
Early online date21 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2019


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