EDM of the week: MPs demand better conditions for farmed rabbits

May 21, 2009 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

rabbits
Eleven MPs have signed an Early Day Motion on the welfare of rabbits bred for farming purposes.

Lib Dem Adrian Sanders tabled the motion drawing attention to the conditions in which they are kept.

“That this House notes with concern the lack of detailed regulations concerning the welfare of domestic rabbits farmed in the UK; believes that farmed rabbits should not be kept in cages as this practice is not consistent with good welfare; notes that the welfare of farmed rabbits, including breeding does, is improved by housing in enriched group pens that provide greater environmental complexity, freedom of movement and opportunities for social interaction;

“Further believes that rabbits should be provided with sufficient height and floor space to allow them to adopt normal postures such as rearing up on their hind legs and to carry out meaningful exercise such as hopping; supports a provision for solid flooring to reduce foot injuries in rabbits;

“Further believes that all farmed rabbits should have access to environmental enrichment, including hay or straw and wooden sticks or blocks for gnawing, and improved housing design that allows for hiding and retreat; supports the work of the Four Paws organisation in this area; and calls on the Government to introduce regulations to phase-out the keeping of farmed rabbits in cages and to make detailed provisions for their welfare.”

Around 250,000 to one million rabbits are reared for meat every year in the UK, according to the RSPCA.

Much greater numbers are reared in other European Union countries (e.g. 50 million per year in France).

“The majority of rabbit meat sold in the UK comes from farmed rather than wild rabbits,” according to the charity’s website.

“Farmed rabbits are typically housed in buildings containing rows of bare wire cages with eight or more growing rabbits in a space of around 0.56m2.

“The RSPCA has serious concerns about these systems, which severely restrict movement and do not allow the rabbits to display natural behaviours such as hopping, rearing up on their hindlegs, gnawing, digging and normal social interactions.

“The lack of space, exercise and poor hygiene and ventilation can also cause rabbits to develop skeletal disorders, sore hocks and various diseases. Death rates can be up to 25 per cent – much higher than for most other farmed animals.”

Early Day Motions can be put forward by any MP. Almost none of them are actually debated.

MPs use them to draw attention to specific events or campaigns or to express a view on a wide range of issues.

Other EDMs this week include one expressing concerned about health problems faced by some pedigree dog breeds and another calling on the government to renegotiate the UK-US extradition treaty.

Photo: The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT).

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