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Reducing Health Expenses while Improving the Productivity of Rabbit Farms

How can we spend less on health care costs while maintaining or improving the productivity of rabbit farms? By building up animals’ resistance, by accurately adjusting feed intakes to animals' requirements and reducing antibiotic use. The emergence and multiplication of resistant bacterial strains are showing the limits of antibiotic treatment. Strengthening rabbits’ natural defenses at the upstream stage of the rearing cycle could work as an interesting alternative. Here are four essential ways to increase the productivity and profitability of a rabbit farm.

 

The purpose of rabbit farming is to produce healthy animals while maximising their performance. As all living creatures, rabbits are susceptible to diseases. Treating infections not only requires the use of medical treatments but also of preventive actions. Sanitary issues are often dealt with by using antibiotics prescribed by veterinarians or through natural additive solutions. When it comes to preventive actions, a good knowledge of animals’ environment is required. This also means that animals’ resistance should be strengthened to allow them to better confront potential threats. Consequently, rabbit farmers are currently faced with a dual challenge:  limiting health expenses to contain antimicrobial resistance while improving their productivity.

Antibiotic resistance relates to a natural phenomenon by which some bacteria are led to multiply as a response to antibiotic action. At this point, sensitive bacteria end up being destroyed while resistant bacteria manage to survive and grow. More rarely, an antibiotic may cause genetically transmitted mutations. Antibiotic resistance is recognised as a major threat to human and animal health. The emergence of resistant strains and their spread have raised doubts as to the efficiency of antibiotic treatments in both humans and animals.
Reducing health expenses requires that traditional therapies be progressively reconsidered. Traditional means could easily be replaced by a single protocol involving a minimum of investments and training. This protocol could lead to a similar technical results as before and a higher net profit. However its practical application must be tailored to the needs of each context.  

 

1. A team work

The willing farmer is the driving force  to implement a multidisciplinary approach of antibiotic reduction. Indeed, a shift in farm management is often required along with a closer monitoring of animals’ behavior. Since the issue is multifactorial, it is essential that the farmer copes with other professionals of the rabbit sector: feed miller, veterinarian, etc. The aim of reducing health expenses must be tackled collectively if it is to be long-lasting.

 

2. The farm audit

Successful farming management implies a good command of rabbits’ environment (water, air, feed, housing conditions). The audit phase is designed to monitor and assess various aspects of farm management: husbandry techniques, air quality, water quality. It allows, among others things, to identify the source of any potential problem (respiratory, digestive, etc.). Depending on the identified strengths and weaknesses, a tailored protocol can then be conceived.

 

3. It starts with females

Maternity is a crucial stage for preventing sanitary issues that are likely to emerge throughout the rearing cycle - especially at growth and finishing. The young animal’s health condition depends on its parents’ health status. To trigger a new trend, it is essential that the program be first applied on female rabbits or does. Only after positive results have shown up on females can it later be extended to kits and fattening rabbits. This program consists of strong investments at the nutrition level via the inclusion of technical premixes and targeted additives. The objectives are to foster the optimal expression of rabbits’ potential, to build up rabbits’ resistance and  to improve their immunity (via intakes of vitamins, trace elements, plant extracts). These have been set up according to specific formulation constraints based on a detailed knowledge of rabbits’nutritional needs and corresponding nutrient supplies: balance protein / energy intake, reinforced amino acid supply, etc.

 

4. Managing health issues throughout fattening

Changes that have already been implemented at the maternity stage will lead kits to reach higher performance levels as they undergo fattening. As a result potential, health threats and issues are likely to be more controlled; weaned kits could turn out to be healthier and more resistant than before. Yet farmers would still have to proceed to a regular monitoring of their rabbit batches. Regular autopsies and the setting of warning threshold (through a better monitoring of mortalities, growth, feed intakes and growths on a daily basis) could allow an improvement in farm management and a reduction of potential risks. The feed program applied at this stage is based on digestible and indigestible fibres, on additives, etc. It is aimed at preventing digestive problems as the latter account for over  half of mortalities during fattening.

 

Are you looking for ways to improve the performance potential of your rabbits and cut down on medical expenses? The TECHNA Group experts can apply an efficient program that includes some of the aforementioned recommendations. Through this approach, you could maintain, if not increase, your current level of production and still reduce your antibiotic costs by up to 50%. For more information, feel free to contact us!

 

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